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Every Victory is a Victory

One of the most difficult parts of living with multiple sclerosis (for many of us) is probably accepting that we may no longer be able to do some of the things that we used to be able to do. This really drives me mad even though I have come to terms with many of my physical and mental disabilities MS has brought about. But it’s not as simple as that, you see, relapsing-remitting MS is a very dynamic disease in that it can always get better or get worse and for some of us that may be more frequent. You finally come to terms with your new baseline or your new “normal” and then? Then you have a relapse and everything is just terrible but the worst part is, even when you get over a relapse, when the waters settle, you may not be 100 percent back to your previous baseline. “Normal” for you has once again changed. Now you must learn to accept you new “normal” all over again.

It’s true what they say, “you don’t know what you have till you lose it”. Before I was diagnosed with MS I road motorcycles, I hiked, I bowled, I went out late, I drew, I sculpted and at one point I could run a mile in just over 6 minutes! And I could do so much more! But after I was diagnosed with MS and after time saw my disease progress I found myself able to do less and less. I slowly accepted that it was no longer safe to ride motorcycles, my hikes got shorter, I no longer had the strength or balance to bowl, I no longer had the energy to stay up and go out past nine or ten at night, I had to put my pencil down and I could hardly walk unassisted let alone run! As I lost the ability to do these things I slowly realized that I had to learn to appreciate every little victory in my life that I could because living life feeling as though you can not accomplish anything is very depressing.

At first, this was hard because I would struggle and require more and more of an effort to just walk around public and I felt no sense of accomplishment because all I could think was “yeah, but I used to be able to run… what happened? How did I get to this point?” That mentality changed when I was stuck in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital for 6 weeks. I was losing so many functions so fast and was stuck in a wheelchair for what felt like forever! I just wanted to walk so badly! On my own two legs! Something so simple that I had been doing without thought for almost all of my life. I didn’t know what I had till I lost it. I hardly had any dexterity in my hands, my speech was so slurred, I was being spoon fed while we discussed the fact that I may need a feeding tube, I could not use the bathroom on my own, nothing was working! I felt so broken… I had realized just how fragile I was.

Though it was a horrible experience I am glad I had it because not only did I learn a lot but I learned how to celebrate every little accomplishment, I learned that every victory is a victory. Learning to walk again is probably my best example of this; the first time I stood up from my wheelchair without anyone around to help me felt so good! A while later I was walking around the house with a walker! No one really likes the idea of a walker at first, especially when you are just 22, but I didn’t care because I was moving from point A to point B on my own two legs! Victory! One day I may have only been able to walk 20 feet and the next day I may have only been able to push it to 21 feet but to me? That extra 1 foot meant I was 1 foot closer to 100 feet. Over time, with much hard work, I went from measuring my walking distance in feet to measuring it in miles. So that first 1 foot was a victory because it was proof of progress.

Progress may feel so slow but progress is progress and you have to feel proud of every bit of it. I find myself feeling good that I was able to do such simple and mundane things simply because last week I was unable to. “I did the dishes today” “I used the oven today” or “I made it from the kitchen to the living room without spilling my cup of coffee today!” The other day I was able to climb up a ladder (just two steps/rungs) and install a ceiling fan! I could not believe it! Sure, before MS I was a DIY guy and could have done that with my eyes closed (not really, that would be all sorts of dangerous) but wow! I did it on my own! I sort of felt dumb for feeling so proud of myself but to not need help felt so great! Who knows what I will be able to do in a month!

So, to me? Yes, it was simple compared to what I used to be able to do, but now? Now all I really think is “every victory is a victory” and whether you think it was a small victory or a huge victory it was still just that, a victory.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • JULIE SAVENE
    3 years ago

    I too have lost so many abilities to MS. But I did discover on line scrapbooking (what am I gonna do with all my manual stuff)….there are many sites you can use, I am currently using Walgreens..I can upload my pictures, make my book, save it & order it when they have a sale…it is more expensive(depending on how extensive you were before) but I can do this from the comfort of my recliner.!

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Haha yes, I have done that, book came out awesome. Look up Mixbook, they are the best out of everyone I have seen and they are constantly sending me emails about great deals haha…

  • 2b1hvb3
    3 years ago

    I get excited when I cook dinner (I use to cook for a husband and six children)as I am usually toast by the end of the day. So yes I and hubby celebrate every victory. I have recently taken up quilting which was something I have never had enough time therefore patience to attempt. MS as giving me the patience I’m sure my kids wish I had when they still lived at home. Most days I can sew and have created some pretty cool quilts as I’m learning. Love your posts

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Haha patience, yep, MS helped me with that one!

  • Lisa
    3 years ago

    Thanks for this. In addition to living with the joys of MS myself, I facilitate workshops on Living Well with Chronic Conditions. Whenever I am in a workshop, I am reminded by the importance of re-framing things. This is a fabulous example of doing so. I really appreciate the reminder of how important it is to be able to do this. Not only that, I am in awe of the fan installation.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Haha that was a pretty big deal to me, it was a good day, like I could not do that today but hey, I did it and we have to appreciate all that we can do like even being on the computer with the physical ability to type!

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