“Hi Karen. This is Carol. Dr. G said I should talk with you about my MS.”
I was surprised by the call. When the nurse asked me if I would speak with Carol, I willingly gave her my phone number – two years ago! Two years later, Carol was ready to talk.
I thought that she might ask about topics like how to handle fatigue, best ways to prepare for travel, how to manage symptoms, challenges of medications, injections and physical therapy.
She knew all that stuff, and if she didn’t, she knew the best thing to do when an MS symptom came up in her life and where to get correct information. She could call her doctor’s office, her local National MS Society office, or visit the Society’s website. She was quite knowledgeable about what to do to stay healthy while living with MS.
So I wondered: Why did she call me?
After a few more phone calls over several weeks’ time, I realized she was searching for a way to be more at ease with this unpredictable disease. She wanted her heart, mind and spirit to cope on a deeper level with the ups and downs and uncertainty of living with MS. She said she just “wasn’t at peace.” Since she called me, I told her that I thought she was searching for spiritual wholeness in her life. I believe that on the journey of a life with MS, spirituality, can lead to healing.
The word “spirituality” sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable, but one way to look at it is simply our inner life. Every person has many facets: the physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual and social self. For some, the transforming power of MS might come through the spiritual.
I believe everyone is spiritual by nature, and that our physical, mental and emotional health are fundamentally interdependent with our spirituality. Spirituality is often, but not always, expressed through religion. Other ways to express our spirituality can be through nature, the arts, belief in the common good, or belief in the importance of family or a community. Spirituality helps us wonder about and reflect on the meaning of life, the importance of relationships, the afterlife, or our very persistence in existence.
Carol said she wanted to think about some of these things, and liked the idea that her overall healing might be improved by being mindful of her spiritual life. She admitted that awareness of her spiritual condition had a critical connection with her overall health. She grew up attending services with her family, but was not much of a churchgoer in her adult life.
“I do not even know the words to say or what I should do now,” she said. I assured her that there were people who could honor her own sense of the sacred very respectfully. Chaplains, ministers, counselors, rabbis, wise friends and elders can suggest books, people and places that are helpful on the spiritual journey.
In this blog, I will explore the world of spirituality and how it can be a factor in healing and wellness. I hope to offer my own spiritual ways of coping with my 40 years of living with MS. I will share what others have found to be meaningful and healing.
My first challenge to you, should you choose to accept it: go within. Calm and quiet yourself. Breathe and relax. Try to face and then relinquish your fears and anger. See what happens when you regularly connect with your spirit and the force of life as you encounter it.