The Sacrifices We Make
For the most part, I tend to think my life with multiple sclerosis has gone well. Rather, it’s gone as well as it could, I guess. I’ve adapted, and despite struggles, I’d say I’ve done the best I can. There are many times when I’m actually proud of the way I’ve soldiered on.
I'm still haunted by some of my choices
Despite that pride, I still struggle with some sacrifices I’ve made along the way. Many people with a chronic illness are forced to make decisions that they’ll forever struggle with. Choices that were necessitated by their health. Decisions that may have been the right choice, but that will still haunt them.
My biggest MS supporters
If you’ve read my writings for a good period of time, you’ll no doubt understand how important my dogs are to me. The dogs I’ve had are my constant companions and my biggest supporters. This became particularly true when my health deteriorated to the point that it caused me to stop working. Not long after being forced onto disability, I was forced to make an extremely tough decision.
A painful sacrifice
With significantly less income, I moved and had to downsize where I lived. After settling into my new location, my two dogs at the time, Murdock and Dexter, finally joined me. Both were mid-to-large sized mutts from rescue shelters filled with energy and used to a large fenced-in yard. When they joined me in my new home, they had no yard. “That’s OK, I can walk them,” I thought. My body wouldn’t allow that though. It quickly became very clear that my new situation in life wouldn’t allow me to care for them and provide for them in the ways that I once could. So in a painful decision, I gave them up to my parents (who live in a different state).
Feeling like a failure
I would go on to rescue another, much older, and smaller pup. One that fit my new location and lifestyle better. Murdock and Dexter now live a wonderful life in Florida, well taken care of, with a huge yard and room to roam. My decision was the right one; I know that. However, it’s one that still haunts me, still saddens me. I’ve lost a great many things to this disease, but having to give them up still causes me to break down at times. No matter how happy I know they are, no matter how much better off they are, it still makes me feel like I failed them. It makes me feel like a failure in general.
It felt like MS had won
In many ways, the decision to give them up was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That decision was when it felt like my illness beat me. I’d already been losing things because of my health, notably my job, which was the foundation for many other things to crumble. In my mind, losing them is completely tied up with losing my career. It was the greatest effect that change had on me. I never had the chance to have kids or family of my own (MS seems to have ensured that), so my dogs are my family, my children. Having to give them up was the final proof to me that I’d lost, that I’d been beaten, that I’d failed.
A loss I will always carry with me
This happened maybe 6 or 7 years ago. I’ve since picked myself up, adapted, and carried on. That doesn’t mean that deep down I still don’t feel like a failure because of it. I know it was the right decision, what had to be done. I know they are happy (I still get plenty of pics of them from my folks, and I send them plenty of treats) but it’s something I will always carry with me.
Making the best of things
I think most people with a chronic illness carry some kind of sacrifice with them, some decision that their health forced upon them. That’s the nature of getting an illness like MS. You can rise above it, you can keep going, but that doesn’t mean those sacrifices won’t still weigh on you at times. For me, it was having to give up my dogs, but I’m sure others carry sacrifices of their own that weigh on them. For them, I say I understand. We do what we have to, and it isn’t always easy.
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