A Morning Prayer

My nemesis, the alarm clock, is shouting at me, urgently notifying me that it’s time to leap out of bed and go to work for the day. My eyes snap open. I can see! Without thinking at all about it, I contract the appropriate muscles in my side and my arm to slap the snooze button for the fifth time this morning. I have to use the bathroom, but I can hold it and I take a moment to appreciate that fact.
Sunlight is seeping in between the window blinds, slowly illuminating the room with its warm glow. What else can I see?
My nose catches a scent very similar to that of corn chips and I look over my shoulder to see one of dog’s feet poking out from under the bedsheet, just inches from my face. I make a mental note to give the pups a bath tonight. And there’s the rest of her, still safely attached to that foot and resting in sweet, blissful slumber. She was a gift from my husband shortly after receiving my diagnosis and she has been my main source of comfort ever since. She even stays close to my head around times of relapse.

There’s my handsome husband, asleep, but teetering on the edge of our king-sized bed, our second dog pressed against him. While our two dogs weigh no more than thirteen pounds each, we’ve come to understand and accept that their tiny bodies require the most prime mattress real estate. I reach across the bed and poke his tiny wet nose (my dog’s, not my husband’s). He lazily opens his big eyes and gives my outstretched finger a good morning kiss. His kisses don’t send electricity across my skin today.
My body is starting to wake up a little bit more and I stretch and curl my toes. I’m filled with gratitude when the texture and weight of the bedsheets don’t give me pain, but rather offer a cool, soft embrace.
I could choose to lament over the stiffness in my limbs. I could complain about how tired and fatigued I am, no matter how much sleep I did or did not get. I could dread having to stumble out of bed and start the routine of getting myself ready for work.
And sometimes I do.
But not this morning. No, this morning I think of those who cannot see their bedside clocks, who do not have the mobility to silence them, those who must rush to the bathroom or depend on products to keep them dry, who will need to write down everything in order to remember it, or who can no longer use their hands to write down everything in order to remember it, those who do not have caretakers who accept them as they are, whose fingers and toes are set ablaze at the slightest touch.
The demyelination process does not happen overnight and can lay dormant for a long time, but symptoms can manifest swiftly. Sometimes I experience guilt because there are so many others that have so many more limitations than I do at this time. Every morning is my own secret game of roulette. But this morning I offer thanks to my body for not further succumbing to the course of the disease—at least not that I can tell.
My sweet nerve fibers, you little tiny things that I’ve never in my life considered, thank you. Thank you for providing an open line of communication between my brain, that spectacular thing, and the rest of my body. My lungs fill with air, my heart beats, my eyes see, my feet dance because of you—over 90,000 miles of teeny tiny nerve fibers.
But like the magnificent stars that burn so brightly in the night sky, the ones we and our children will wish upon, you may already be dead.
Are you there?

I trust you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.
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Cat Stappas

Cat was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013 and writes about her experiences in her blog, It's Only A Bruise. She hopes to make the dark corners of the internet a little bit less scary for both the newly and the long-time diagnosed with some honesty, positivity and — sometimes — some tongue-in-cheek humor. You can read her blog here and follow her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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  • Avatar
    dbkeith11  Jun 10, 2016 9:59 AM
    Thank you for this post.
  • milly   Jun 10, 2016 10:03 AM
    I think I really needed to read this today Cat. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting! I completely agree that there are "good days" that truly need to be cherished. We need to inhale everything on these days and be considerate or just simply mindful of those that have limited capabilities and/or are having a "bad day". Thanks again my fellow warrior for reminding me of this.
  • Kortni   Jun 10, 2016 10:14 AM
    Yes, yes, YES!!
    Thank you for putting this into words so beautifully!
  • Angela   Jun 10, 2016 10:17 AM
    Thank you Cat! Eloquently, pointedly and susinctly written. Other than the two dogs in bed (my Sheltie sleeps on my side of the bed on the floor) and the job (I have been off work since my first relapse in July 2015-I was first believed to have had a stroke) what you wrote of could have been MY morning. I thought I was the only one who woke up, blinked, and made grateful note that I could still see. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone with this, and that there is always gratitude to focus on, nomatter what I COULD complain about.
    Thank you.
  • Jeannie Harms   Jun 10, 2016 10:19 AM
    Beautiful. Thankfulness is an healing gift and agent. My daughter has MS. I understand your comments to the core. Not fully of course. But deeply. Blessing your journey.
  • Nicole   Jun 10, 2016 10:57 AM
    Thank you so much for this post, Cat. Having only been diagnosed in January, I am still struggling to adapt and to not allow myself to fall into the gaping hole of depression. Reading your blog is such a comfort.
  • David Maskalick   Jun 10, 2016 11:08 AM
    I was diagnosed in 1987. Always remember to appreciate each moment of time in your life since as you grow older time moves more quickly and your body moves more slowly.
  • Anna   Jun 10, 2016 11:09 AM
    Cat. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I too woke up to a "good day" today. We must celebrate the good days and tolerate the others. I am so very grateful that my RMS is pretty stable ( 10 years since Dx ) and that I have a very caring neurologist. But mostly, I celebrate my dear and caring brother ( my darling caretaker and BFF ) every minute of every day for all that he does and for always making me laugh. I am very blessed.
  • Avatar
    new2ms101  Jun 10, 2016 11:23 AM
    I too was diagnosed with RRMS in 2013. Although I've had it since 1991, undiagnosed as idiopathic encephalitis, after 2 grand mal seizure's...

    Cat, your story is inspiring and reminds me to be thankful for "not" having any debilitating problems, yet. The horror is always in the front of my mind too. I'm reminded all the time working in healthcare, and taking care of other MS patients whom have succumbed to the loss of their mobility, sight, and thinking.

    Acts and thoughts of gratitude is a wonderful reminder. Thank you for sharing!
  • Susan Lesperance   Jun 10, 2016 12:22 PM
    Cat, thank YOU...for another great article written for the MS Connection blog.
  • Sally Kuhlman   Jun 10, 2016 12:48 PM
    Thank you, Cat, for reminding us all to be thankful for the gifts that we have and take for granted. Thank you for opening our eyes and reminding us that none of us are perfect. Be thankful for the imperfections, as they make us who we are today. Your positive attitude, can do spirit, and humor lift me up. You are amazing. xoxo
  • Nicole   Jun 10, 2016 1:19 PM
    Wow, thank you so much for putting in to words exactly how I feel every morning. Each morning when I wake up I have a moment of anxiety wondering if today is the day that the other shoe might drop.
  • Ricki   Jun 10, 2016 2:19 PM
    You write beautifully but you've only had MS for 3 years. I've had it since the '70's. Although I'm grateful for every day, I'm just exhausted.
  • Vicky   Jun 10, 2016 2:59 PM
    I love you article. I love my God also, who I trust and know is with me with symptoms of MS. Gratitude is an awesome attitude and helps with the day. I have not lingered on that much, as I just get up - pain or no pain. I liked how you just were so present and gentle with you. Thank you so much for your blog. I was diagnosed in 2007 and new things are starting to happen, but I have good doctors and I feel that I am not alone. Others I have met are truly in much pain. I pray for them and I pray for all of us who have MS. It is a both AND. A gift to help me enjoy the present and slow down AND a cause of anxiety when the pain, the forgetting, the bladder and bowel, the fatigue and the "sometimers moments" affect our day - not to mention the numbness. Yet through it all, I know and I trust I am not alone and I am loved. God bless you. Vicky
  • Dolores   Jun 10, 2016 4:39 PM
    Cat, Every response I've seen on your story starts with Thank you..., Having the strength and courage for each day and to share with US is AWESOME!!!I've had MS for 29 years and have maintained a positive attitude to fight and learn.... guess I might be on to something....Seems like you are too. .. Always I will remember YOUR story... THANK YOU
  • Avatar
    SmartyPants  Jun 10, 2016 4:45 PM
    yes, every day without progression is a blessing, you made me remember that and for that i thank you
  • Timothy Muck   Jun 10, 2016 6:13 PM
    Increase your body's pH and see how that affects your poetry.
  • Avatar
    gjlisGLORIA  Jun 10, 2016 6:44 PM
    With your permission, I would like to print this out, frame it and put it up on my bedroom wall. You have written as if it was my own thought progression. I am not lonely when I read your words. I no longer feel the isolation in the midsst of others that do not understand. How could they. But you as many of us understand. And your lovely heart words are of great encouragement to me. Your words inspire me.
    Thank you.
  • Glen   Jun 10, 2016 10:07 PM
    Awesome lady - love your humour - I think your dogs deserve an award also - I am (touch wood) verrrry lucky at present - few odd things - but other ailments going on which is a pain - but all manageable - - my friend and I use to clean together Work stuff- both ms - she really bad - but we had our own language - funniest thing is we both got what each other was trying to say the more tired we were - bless you xx
  • Rachel   Jun 11, 2016 3:41 AM
    Thank you for this. After coming home from my PIP assessment yesterday and feeling sad because I had to illustrate to a man who was not a medical practitioner what I CANT do I felt the need to think about what I CAN DO and you have hit the nail right on the head. Thank you for sharing this to me when I needed it. I feel thankful again for what I CAN do xx
  • Cathy Wilson   Jun 12, 2016 5:46 PM
    Hit such a chord with me, diagnosed with progressive MS in 2010, on a very slow decline unlike the norm apparently! Didn't stop my ex of 28 years heading for the hills! Really hard not knowing what the future brings, but grateful for every day it doesn't get worse!
  • mhill2924  Jun 13, 2016 4:41 PM
    Very good way to start the day-- by being thankful for the all the small things that we all take for granted!
  • Michelle Moody   Jun 18, 2016 6:01 AM
    Thank you for sharing. My little brother has MS and I often wonder how he feels. He is an awesome person and I hope and believe he has more good days than bad. I love you Aaron
  • Nikkilee   Jun 20, 2016 10:34 AM
    I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels guilty for "there are so many others that have so many more limitations than I do at this time." Thanks for sharing.
  • Avatar
    adillon845  Jun 25, 2016 3:49 PM
    Hi Cat. Thank you for posting this. I have been having a very tough time the past few weeks and so thankful your post. You are a beautiful writer and person.
  • Avatar
    bjbecker43  Jun 28, 2016 7:17 AM
    I relate to this post completely. This was better put than I would be able to do.
  • Monique Bailey   Jun 28, 2016 11:35 AM
    I read this post and it made me smile. Today started out good. Thank you
  • Avatar
    Orlando Castaneda  Jun 30, 2016 8:55 AM
    Beautiful. I never contemplated thanking my tiny nerves. Absolutely beautiful.
  • lm333  Aug 11, 2016 2:04 PM
    Thank you so much for sharing this, Cat! There is much to be thankful for, even when we are struggling.
  • prenasharma   Nov 25, 2016 1:50 AM
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