MS Reflections On My Birthday: I Feel Much Older Than I Am
As I close in on my 40th birthday at the end of September (with nearly half of those years fighting Multiple Sclerosis), it’s hard for me not to spend some significant time reflecting on my current state in life. It’s hard not to think about where I am, where I thought I’d be, and how this disease has affected that. It’s easy to think that I’ll be old at 40. As I say that, many people are offended and thinking “That’s not old at all!”. I guess for me, it’s a reminder that even though I am turning one age, my body feels and acts like I’m much older. That’s the real reason I feel old on on this birthday.
You can’t tell by looking at me
I probably beat this fact into so many of the things that I write, but the invisible nature of many of our symptoms can make us look extremely normal on the outside. Adding to that, there is a tendency to show only our best moments on social media (and few people want to be seen as sick, so you most likely aren’t seeing the bad and often, more common moments). Even aside from what you see in our virtual world, running into me in person is often extremely deceptive. I’m putting on my best performance when I’m in public, often at great cost.
I feel so old
On my very best days, walking is a struggle. I stupidly fight against using the cane, walker, or the scooters I’ve been prescribed (don’t be me, use the items, they help massively). So I hobble along, bounce off objects, and occasionally fall. I’m in pain, every single day. My memory and cognitive ability is, at times, completely unreliable. I’m constantly fatigued to the point that even getting up to use the bathroom seems impossible. All of these issues cause so much trouble that even showering can be an extreme task to me.
So without being old, I feel old. At least, I assume this is what it might be like to be old. Not only do I feel like my body has a lot more years on it than it actually does, I feel like those years were rough. Like perhaps I did hard labor of some kind for 50 years and now this is the body I am left with. I also feel like a car (if a car could feel) that has way too many miles on it, miles driven exclusively on bumpy, unfinished roads. Going with that car analogy, it feels like I’m always in the shop, with mechanics (doctors) trying every trick they can think of to keep me running. All while their real advice would probably be to just go buy a new car.
Some cars are too tough to stop
Those mechanics have done a decent job keeping me running too (though they advise me not to take it on the highway). It’s easy to complain about those mechanics, but if I stop and think what they are up against, it’s amazing that they’ve done what they’ve done. One look at my MRI and I’m instantly reminded how amazing it is that I still function as well as I do. I owe some of that to the mechanics, the doctors who have helped along the way (though trust me, finding a good mechanic is extremely hard). But like any great vehicle I’ve owned, I owe some of it to the car, and specifically the engine (my brain). As beat up and damaged as it is (all those lesions, all those damaged nerves), it keeps going, and I’m thankful for that! This car has seen some action, it’s older than its years, but it’s still going.
Thanks for reading - Devin
Does anyone else in your family have MS?