MS Reflections On My Birthday: I Feel Much Older Than I Am

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

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Comments

View Comments (13)
  • MSandLivingLife
    1 year ago

    Happy Belated Birthday!
    Totally get what you are talking about. I often wonder if I never worked so hard in younger years of construction or if I never went through the stresses of running a resort, if I would have never been diagnosed with MS? But then, I do think back as to how many trips to the doctors I went and they had no idea of what was wrong with me. Now I can attack things more appropriately. Just like our cars, al we can do is our best at looking after it. I do feel much older then I was 7 years ago. That goes for cognitively and physically. Sometimes we just have to do whats best for us.

  • corgi9
    1 year ago

    Happy bday Devin……I feel one age from the neck up (17) and another age from the neck down (70). The advantage that a mechanic/mechanic has over a doctor,/mechanic is that the m/m can work on a car with the engine shut off….so just make sure you do what you need to do to keep your engine running. Sometimes we have to change our own oil !

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you corgi9! Very good point! I wish I could switch my engine off while they work on me!

  • potter
    1 year ago

    I just turned 65 this week and feel the same age as my mother in-law who is 95. It does give us a lot to talk about. Potter

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much potter!

  • LuvMyDog
    1 year ago

    A belated Happy Birthday to you!
    I know how you feel.
    But you are young, much younger than I am, so keep fighting that good fight so you can get to be really old, like me. I was diagnosed with MS 35 years ago, I’m 71 now. It is indeed a gigantic pain but what can we do. We bit*h and moan and are furious that we have to go through this but all we can do is keep trying.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much LuvMyDog! Always appreciated!

  • 1 year ago

    Good post Devin,

    As I approach 45 next January it really doesn’t makes much difference to me. Age is just a number thats how I see it. Ive come to the realization, now that i have MS, is that living in the present moment is the best bet. The past is done and there is not much to do about it. The future I have no control over either. With something as unpredictable as this illness, planning makes no sense. So living today as best as i can is the only way. Ive been told that if you have one leg standing in yesterday and another standing in tomorrow, you shit on today. I think thats one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life.

    cheers, and happy birthday bud!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks Diego! You are so write about living in the past, it’s extremely dangerous for folks like us, I get caught up in it way too often!

  • zenhead
    1 year ago

    I just had my 59th birthday, so I’m right there with you, brother. A therapist called it, “Aging plus.” At least it gives me and my 86 year old dad something to talk about.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much zenhead! I like that term, “Aging plus”!

  • Bettybeem
    1 year ago

    I love the car analogy! I was suppose to have been replaced by 2000, but I’m still here going down that really bumpy road filled with potholes. I’ve got some amazing mechanics!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks Bettybeem! They don’t build them like they used to anyway right!

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