When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 22, I was scared of this disease and the effects it could have on my body and/or mind. I was incredibly fatigued, my left foot felt numb and the feeling traveled up my leg into my left torso. After being treated with steroids, I felt 100% again and tried to dismiss the diagnosis and everything the neurologist told me. My friends and family bought me books on MS and encouraged me to go to support group meetings but all I really wanted to do was live in denial. I tried desperately to live my life like I was fine and nothing ever happened, but a year and a half later, I had an issue with the peripheral vision in my left eye and I felt defeated. Although I fully recovered from this 2nd exacerbation, I realized that I had to make some changes in my life. I couldn’t let this disease beat me; I had to face my fears and challenges and I did this by befriending them.
It has been 24 years since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and by befriending my MS, I feel like I have a partner in crime and someone to blame when things go wrong. Depending on the situation, I have several different names for my MS. For instance, when I try to walk somewhere and my legs don’t want to go with me, I say, “Come on my friend; let’s go.” As the situations get more difficult and/or frustrating, I use different names. I have called her “Jerk” and something much more explicit when I have unexpectedly tripped and fallen to the ground or when I have been driving in the car and am desperately searching for a restroom because she is torturing me with a sense of urgency.
Although my MS can sometimes be a royal pain in the butt, she can also be smarter than me. For example, when I’m fatigued and I’m still trying to do silly chores around my house, “my friend” will make my legs so tired that I have to lay down and rest for a few minutes. It’s almost like she knows when I’ve done too much and she has to take control because I’m too stubborn to do it myself. I do appreciate my MS sometimes but other times, I need to put her in her place.
By befriending Multiple Sclerosis, it has helped me regain control and unleash my potential. Life is an adventure with lots of challenges and my friend MS and I are getting through them together one baby step at a time.