I woke up one morning about 5 years ago and knew something was wrong…really wrong. The day started out just like it always did. My alarm clock buzzed me awake declaring a new day had begun. I sat up, stretched really big and yawned, only as I rubbed my eyes I could tell something was different.
I sat in bed and realized I couldn’t feel the upper right-side of my face. It was such a strange feeling. It wasn’t like I could have slept wrong pinching a nerve in my face. Was that even possible? And I knew an elephant didn’t sit on my head during the night because elephants don’t live in my neighborhood. What was it?
I spent a few days contemplating its cause. I think I was more hoping it would simply go away than anything, but each day I woke up to more of the same as the numbness kept growing to the side of my body and legs. That’s when I became concerned.
My diagnosis was a quick one due to the increasing symptoms that began appearing all throughout my body. The MRIs were indisputable. They showed the damage taking place inside my body. My immune system was having a picnic creating lesions in my brain and spine. The MS monster seemed to be starving and my Central Nervous System was its food.
Ever since that day, Multiple Sclerosis has been tagging along with me trying its best to define me. I’ve tried to shake it loose, hide it away, deny its existence, and even ignore it in hopes it would find somewhere else to live, but no matter what I’ve tried, it seems to simply dig in deeper refusing to move.
For whatever reason, MS has made its home in my body, but even though it is a part of my life, it’s still not who I am. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my symptoms. I am not MS.
My identity isn’t tied up in this disease. Do you know what else I learned? My identity isn’t my career or my talents either. Life changed and in the change I discovered I wasn’t any of those things.
So if those things are not me, then who am I?
I’ll tell you who I am. I’m a fighter who refuses to give up, that’s who I am. Sure, days get hard and many times I cry a bucket full of tears as the world crashes in on me, but somehow I rise above the difficulties. Somehow, I get through the day. Somehow I make it through the struggle.
Don’t let MS define you. Don’t let the bad days determine who you are. With each passing day, you are an amazing warrior standing strong even though your body is weak. Some days the battle will overwhelm you but you will also have days when you will overwhelm it. Stay in the fight. You are not your MS. You are admirable. You are fabulous. You are incredible. You are…well, you are YOU!