A Moment of Reflection
As I get older, I find I’ve developed the habit of reflecting on my life with Multiple Sclerosis a couple of times a year. One day is obviously my MSiversary. The other, today, is my birthday. As I write this, I am turning 42 years old, with nearly half of that spent having MS myself, and the other half spent living with a grandfather who suffered from the illness (I guess you could say that the disease has been a pretty big part of my life). Moments of reflection can be tough. It’s extremely easy to think about what’s been taken, what you haven’t done, and what might have been. While I’m never one to shy away from talking about those types of thoughts, I take days like this to think about the more positive aspects of life with this disease. This time around, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you fine folks.
I’ve mentioned in previous writings how I feel my disease has made me more appreciative. I think it takes having things taken from you, as this disease can do, before you can truly begin to appreciate the life you have. The simplest things are much more enjoyable after living with this illness for so long, especially after having it affect everything from my ability to make a living to every relationship I’ve ever had. When you have enough rough days in life, you begin to look at things differently. The smallest of life’s moments, like a cool breeze, a good night’s sleep, a cold beer, your team winning, and even, as cliche as it sounds, a good sunset, can be moments of profound enjoyment and appreciation. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel that way had this disease not become a big part of my life.
While it may not seem it to most people, I stop and look at what I’ve gone through because of my chronic illness and I have to admit, it makes me feel a bit invincible. Sure, I have a lot of bad times and have lost a lot, this isn’t the life I planned, but I’ve kept on going. There’s a great quote from one of the Rocky movies (yeah, I grew up near Philadelphia, so Rocky is a treasure) that I always think of: “It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done”. I take that quote to heart. It doesn't matter how many times I fall, or relapse, or something bad happens, I deal with it and keep moving. I have a perfect track record when it comes to life hitting me hard and me getting back to it. When I think about that, I feel pretty indestructible. I’ve already overcome a lot, and because of that, I know I can overcome more if needed.
The best a man can be
It’s impossible to know how I would have turned out without MS. However, I believe that with the disease teaching me to appreciate life more (and at a young age) and forcing me to overcome a tremendous amount of setbacks in life, that it’s made me the best person I can be. I learned a lot of tough lessons over my life with MS and was forced to learn them sooner than most. I may not appear as successful on paper as I was when I still had my career, but I do think that I’m a greater and more well-rounded person than I was when I still worked. It certainly doesn’t always feel that way, but deep down, I know it’s the truth. In many ways, I’ve accomplished more after I left my career than when I was in it. Living a life with MS is no joke, it’s not easy, and surviving with it is an accomplishment. Always remember that when you are feeling down.
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