Have you ever had something like this happen?
You share your multiple sclerosis journey with someone and they proceed to tell you how their approach to MS or some other ailment is the only way you should be living? That because you go to doctors and take meds, you are doing it all wrong? That you wouldn’t have the struggle you are having if you would just do things their way? That if you only ________ (fill in the blank) you would feel better?
It can get extremely frustrating when someone assumes they know your body and your journey better than you do. Comparing illnesses or even progressions of the same illness between two different people never works. You just can’t fit one person’s life into someone else’s box and think they will be able to function the same. Life just doesn’t work that way. MS doesn’t work that way.
Think about it like this. Two car accidents happen on the very same day. Both involve being rear-ended and both happen during early morning rush-hour traffic. The first accident totaled both cars injuring everyone involved. The second one was a minor fender-bender.
Both were accidents. Both involved cars being rear-ended. Both happened on the same day. But once you get past those facts, they are vastly different. You simply can’t compare the two after labeling them as accidents.
The same goes for a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Two people can experience similar symptoms. Two people can show clusters of lesions on MRI scans. Two people can go through a similar path to diagnosis. Yet both will face different progressions and struggles.
One might be able to function okay for years with only minor limitations and another may progress rapidly as MS ravages their body. Did one person eat better, choose a better method of treatment, follow a better exercise plan?
You can’t compare two cases of MS and assume that MS can be managed the same for everyone. You can’t even assume two different people living with the same progression of MS will experience the exact same struggles or recovery. After determining MS is the cause of a persons difficulties, there’s just no comparison. Two different people, two different environments, two different bodies, two different DNA structures, two different lives.
Most people with MS may not be able to run a marathon, but for those that can, I am extremely proud of you. I’m excited for your enthusiasm to accomplish such a tremendous feat and am cheering you on as you go.
But I’m also cheering on the ones that struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I’m rooting for the ones that need hours just to shower and get dressed. I’m standing with the ones that can’t stand…even though I’m only standing on the inside myself.
Each one of us have our own daily accomplishments to be proud of. Just because mine involve less strenuous activities than someone else doesn’t mean I’m not pushing with every ounce of strength I have left in me in order to complete them. My Mount Everest may appear to be an ant hill in comparison, but to me it’s a monumental moment when I conquer it.
I may not finish first, tenth, or sixty-seventh. I may be the last one crossing the finish line as I use the final bits of strength that I have left…but I’m making it.
Never let anyone cause you to feel unimportant, less-than or as if you should be doing things differently. You are amazing just as you are. You are a champion beyond compare. I’m cheering you on as you take your Everest and I’m proud of your accomplishments in the face of the impossible.