The Best-Laid Plans
Let’s talk for a moment about making plans. We all make plans. Some of us are more of the planning sort, (myself for example,) while others, (like my husband,) are into a little more of a play-it-by-ear philosophy. Whatever philosophy you live by, MS makes it so that you sometimes have to make changes on the fly, or last minute. Sometimes even the best-laid plans have to become flexible due to extenuating circumstances, such as symptoms popping up or physical inabilities making things impossible.
For everyone the symptoms that keep us from doing different activities range far and wide. Most often mobility is what keeps us from doing whatever we’ve planned, be it personal or work. Mobility can be a real kick in the pants, because it can kind of be what makes it or breaks it when it comes to getting things done, and there’s often not much you can do about a mobility issue. My legs are often the source of my problems, and they just don’t always “work” with my brain. Most of the time, when your brain says walk, your legs move appropriately. Mine don’t always work in conjunction with each other, and that can make for some pretty good injuries if you’re not careful. I’ve fallen more times than I can count, and it would be easy to break a bone while falling, or do even more damage.
Another side to the mobility issue for me is that most of the time I can’t really tell it’s happening, so it feels like it comes on very suddenly. I’ll feel fine in the morning when I wake up and sure that I can do whatever I’d planned for that day. Then at some point it’ll sort of hit me, and I’ll have trouble walking or moving around like I need to. That can be a pretty big deal, especially if you’ve committed to plans with your employment. A lot of people with MS, and many other neurological or physical issues, have problems with keeping employment because they can’t commit to being there at scheduled times or end up calling in and using all of their sick (or paid day off) days sooner than the end of the year. Employment is pretty dependent on you actually showing up when you’re scheduled and doing whatever the job is that you are scheduled to do. So if you have to alter that to accommodate for any mobility issues, or any issues really, you can be in a heap of trouble. Employers aren’t supposed to discriminate based on something like an illness or medical condition, but if you can’t perform the job that you have been hired to do, either because you are physically incapable or because you have too much time taken off of work, that can certainly work to your detriment.
On a more personal side of the planning issue, making plans with friends and family can be difficult as well. Often if you want to do something with others, it requires a sense of forethought and maybe even purchase before the date of that event. Something like going to a show can be a great example of this, because you have to buy tickets before the event, and if you don’t know how you’ll feel on that particular date, it can be hard to say what you’ll feel up to doing and if you will be able to follow through with that commitment you’ve made. If you have friends and family who are understanding of your MS, and it’s side effects, you are very lucky. They will usually be able to understand when you have to cancel, or reschedule. My husband and I have a lot of friends who are all great about working around whatever special needs I may have at the time, and making sure to include us whenever possible.
What kinds of things can you think of as far as making plans go? Do you like to make plans and hope that you’ll be able to do things, or do you kind of fly by the seat of your pants and just go with the flow? I’m working on being more of that type of person, and going with whatever happens, but it’s not in my nature! It’s hard to change, though sometimes with MS we don’t get a choice in the matter. How about employment… for those who are (still) working outside of the home, how do you handle the unexpected and your job?