Coloring Outside The Lines

It feels so good to wake up alive. I guess two months in the hospital will make a person think that way.

This year has been rough for me. I’ve been in three medical centers in six months. While each stay was for a different reason, all my visits have been related to MS.

Harder and harder to accomplish everyday tasks

And since being home, my body is still covered with the pain from the weeks before, making it harder and harder for me to accomplish everyday tasks. Weakening my abilities. Staining my thoughts with sad memories.

Falling in the deep end

Now, the stench of fear has perfumed my life with madness. Waking me every morning to face another graceless day filled with attempted wall walking, embarrassing bladder leakage, and bouts of drowsiness. Constantly spending my time falling in the deep end trying not to drown. Bearing all the weight of multiple sclerosis on my shoulders.

And when I hear other people talking about their MS journey, it always sounds amazing. No matter what obstacle is in their way, each time they somehow triumph over difficulty. It feels as if the problems most people go around, I seem to go through.

Conversations are getting more challenging

Even simple conversations are getting more challenging for me. People ask me questions, but I just can’t respond. I know the answer, but I can’t articulate a reply. I’m losing my power to successfully communicate my ideas. I have so much I want to say, but my words regularly trip over my thoughts.

So now I have to rearrange my whole life to accommodate what has happened to me.

Focusing on recovery

Therefore, recovery has become my new objective. Physical therapy, speech therapy, wound care, and occupational therapy are all components of my rehabilitation.

My therapist told me rehab reteaches you how to color inside the lines. Recreating a previous portrait of yourself. She treated every session as an adventure to retrieve a baseline that seemed to be lost forever.

In contrast, my pessimistic views kept me questioning the process. I wondered, how could I color a new picture when most of the crayons in my box were broken?

But just when I was about to give up, something astonishing began to happen. Some of those broken parts started working again. A hand that remained motionless for weeks suddenly moved. The blurry vision in my right eye disappeared. My once weak voice strengthened enough to be heard across the room.

My hope came back

And with those moments my hope came back. With each achievement, no matter how small, I began to trust again. I believed when they told me I could reclaim my physical strength.

I now know I can’t regain everything back overnight. Rehabilitation is a varied process. It may take weeks, months or even years to recoup abilities.

I have accepted that I could fail nine times. But it is the tenth time where I may possibly succeed.

The victory is in trying

Because rehab works differently for everyone, people have to find their individual path to success. At the beginning of my rehabilitation trek, I was measuring my improvement against customary outcomes. It wasn’t until I stopped comparing my efforts to others that I began to see positive results.

So now I approach rehabilitation deliberately, gradually, and by occasionally coloring outside the lines.

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

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