It's MSiversary Time!

On February 2nd, 2000, I was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While most people think of February 2nd as Groundhog Day, I know it as my MSiversary. It’s become a special day for me. One that I actually like to celebrate. In addition to partying, I like to take the time around my MSiversary each year to reflect on my life with MS. To look at the past, where I’ve come, and where I’m going with respect to the disease. With so much of my life with MS shared here, I thought I’d share these thoughts here too. This year is a big one for me, as I will now have the disease longer than I didn’t have it.

MS anniversary: An odd milestone

It never crossed my mind 22 years ago that I would eventually be living longer with multiple sclerosis than I did without it, but that’s where I’m at. I know most folks love to say things like “MS doesn’t have me” or to play it off like it’s not a big deal (and for many, that’s true), but for me, it’s now been with me for the majority of my life.

It’d be foolish of me to say that my illness hasn’t been formational in my life, that it hasn’t helped shape and mold who I am as a person. It’s had a major impact on my life and who I’ve become. A big reason for that was that I became disabled at just 35 years of age because of this disease, a fact that I am still having trouble with seven years later. However, it’d be crazy for me to not acknowledge that being as young as I was when I was diagnosed also impacted me. Still in college and becoming who I was meant to be and having an incurable illness thrust on me, had to have impacted who I became.

This milestone won’t matter to future Devins

One thing I’m so happy to think about on this MSiversary is that in the future, a milestone like this won’t have the same impact on people. The newer medications are incredibly effective. The more people have access to them early in their diagnosis, the less debilitating this disease will be to the population.

I know that if I’d had access to my current medication (Tysabri) or any of the newer ones when I was diagnosed, I would not be disabled today. Those medications simply didn’t exist back then. Medicine has come a long way during my life with MS, so much so that the future is very bright for those that get this disease. While it’d be easy for me to curse and bemoan that I didn’t have these medications available to me, I’d rather focus on being happy for the next person that this disease attacks.

The worst of things can turn out well

While I can’t sit here and say that my life is perfect, I can say that I like who I’ve become. Despite being unable to work, struggling with painful symptoms, and wrestling with mental health challenges, I still feel like my experience with MS has helped me grow into a good person. While my struggles seem relentless at times, I’m still able to find enjoyment in the smaller things in life. Even on my worst days, I can usually still find something to smile at, and I like to credit my life with MS for that. While on paper, my life looks like a disaster and not how anyone would have planned, it doesn’t always feel that. Living with MS for so long has made me realize that even the worst situations can have their silver linings, and for that, I am thankful.

I celebrate

As I often say to others when their MSiversary pops up, celebrate it! I celebrate it each year because of all the things I’ve mentioned here already, but also because it’s a way of gaining control. The anniversary of being diagnosed with an incurable disease isn’t normally a reason for joy, so I make it one. I’ve now turned this day from something sad into something I look forward to, and that’s a big reason why I celebrate. Instead of moping and sitting around thinking about all that’s happened or what could have been, I try to focus on how much fun I can have that day. I make my MSiversary MY day, not the disease’s, and I am better off for it.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

Devin

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