The 'MS Changes Things' Christmas-Time Reflections
Christmas is my favorite holiday for a host of reasons. Spiritually, as a believer, I believe that the true reason for the season commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and the beauty and importance it represents to mankind. And then there's the festive air that the holidays bring. This season is bright and joyous and uplifting, from the carols to lively decorations to thoughtful gift-giving, and more.
The season has returned, and I just can't help but to reflect on how the holidays - Christmas Day in particular - have changed for me over the years, but more specifically, post-MS diagnosis.
Christmas mornings before MS
Growing up, there was no thought. Christmas Day began with my sisters and I excitedly waking one another up early in the morning. Together, we’d rush down the stairs to the 'middle room' where the tree was up and our gifts were grouped around the room with a sign with our name on it. We’d hurry to our respective names and begin going through our gifts. Our parents would join us shortly thereafter. We’d enjoy a family breakfast, and the day would ensue with intermittent visitors and visiting family and friends until we’d all meet again later in the evening after a long fun-filled day.
Once my sisters and I grew up and we had our own homes, there was no thought even still. I would start early Christmas morning - not with my sisters, but by then, with my children. Opening gifts and enjoying one another at the start of the day with just us. Then, mid morning, we’d clean up our mess and prepare to head out to meet with the rest of the family at my parents' house, where we’d exchange and open gifts before feasting on a delicious family potluck brunch.
The day would, like the days of old, ensue with intermittent visitors and visiting family and friends until we’d all meet again later in the evening and then retire to our own respective homes after a long, fun-filled day.
Then MS became part of my life
And then MS became a part of my life, and there were changes that began. Slowly at first, but as time went on, those changes perpetuated the need for thought to manage my Christmas Day. And then came more changes. Hence the need for more thought relative to managing the day and even more as the changes ‐ i.e. effects of MS - snowballed.
At first it wasn’t too bad. I was a little slower, would tire more easily and much faster. We’d get to my parents a little later than before. My visiting family and friends slowed until eventually, I just stayed put at my parents and awaited the visitors due to my impacted mobility. The thought of flare ups were a concern due to the stressors the holiday can bring. With stress being a trigger for MS, I had to be careful.
Then the time came when I wasn’t able to decorate my own house, physically shop for and wrap gifts, nor place them under my tree for my children. I was unable to contribute personally prepared dishes to the potluck brunch. My thoughts centered around how to deal with the changes brought about by the decline of functionality that MS had caused.
What I miss
Fast forward to the present, things really have changed. Completely sedentary now and wheelchair-bound, admittedly, I do miss things like:
- The times before MS took away my mobility. This left me unable to get to my parents house on Christmas Day, because the Paratransit (handicapped accessible transportation) doesn’t operate on holidays. This also leaves me having to go on a different day - and even limiting my time there when I do go to avoid awkward bathroom incidents/accidents
- Partaking in the hustle and bustle of fighting the store's holiday frenzy
- When my hands weren’t contracted and I could decorate, cook, and gift wrap
- Just all the things I looked forward to doing with ease and pretty much without a second thought for the holidays
What I still enjoy
Among my post-MS reflections about Christmas and the holiday season as a whole, yes, MS has changed much for me, but then I think, you know what? Christmas is still my favorite holiday for a host of reasons. Again, I cannot forget that I'm celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the beauty and importance it represents to me, to mankind. And there's still festivity in the air along with the brightness, joy, and uplifting atmosphere the season brings.
And, of course, the traditional and contemporary carols that I love so much as well as the lively decorations, thoughtful gift giving and receiving, holiday parties, games, programs and movies to good food, treats and fellowship. None of that can be overlooked or ignored.
At this point, it’s been years of holidays with MS for me. Early on, I decided that however I did it and whatever it took, I would not stop loving, celebrating and enjoying my favorite vibrant time of the year - and this year is no different!
*Happy Holidays to me and to you!*
Were you misdiagnosed with something else before receiving a MS diagnosis?