How can anyone live with a chronic illness and still smile? How is it that I am able to find happiness after a disease has stolen away a flourishing career, ended friendships, isolated me from much of the world, and many times confined me to my house? How is it that I am not falling apart along with the rest of my world?
I must be living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world that I’ve made up in my own head. No one can have progressive multiple sclerosis and still find purpose in life. No one can have their life striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in continual, relentless pain, fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything that says differently.
How can anything good come from a life of pain?
Pain has taught me that joy is possible. After all, I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of continual pain. I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life that so easily get passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.
I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will be able to gain enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. I don’t know if there’s really a light at the end of the tunnel or if I’m heading towards a tragic collision with the 6 o’clock train. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.
But I do know one thing…MS cannot and will not define me. I used to be so brave. I used to be a tower of strength. I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with shaky knees, trembling hands, covered in scars and with tears in her eyes. I have been striped naked and bare because of MS, but today…today, I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas that push against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.
Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, that we are more than MS. We are more than the pain. More than the loneliness, struggles and fears. We are true warriors! And although people may never understand the battles we face or see the internal struggles that take place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.
Wear your medal of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty MS warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.