A Shout Out to My MS Warriors
Over my time writing and advocating about the struggles of life with Multiple Sclerosis, I’ve made a large number of friends and acquaintances who have the disease. My writing has really opened up a varied world of people from all demographics and levels of the disease. I talk to folks ranging from still waiting for a diagnosis to those that have had the disease even longer than me. I’ve talked often about how there are so many differences between all of us. About how MS is a snowflake disease, and that you really have to find your own treatment path yourself. Despite all the differences, there is one thing we all have in common: we are warriors.
A warrior in each of us
The phrase “MS Warrior” is a common one in our community. It’s emblazoned on everything from t-shirts and jewelry to internet memes and even tattoos. There is a very good reason for that: it’s absolutely true. No matter what their level of diagnosis or experience with the disease, whether they know it or not, there is a warrior in them. Sometimes they just have to find it in themselves, but I assure you it’s there. I actually think only true warriors get this disease. Nature sees us and realizes the only chance it has to take us out is to have our own body fight itself. That’s how tough we are, that’s how bad@$$ we are, this disease has to turn our own immune system on us to try to beat us.
The dictionary defines a warrior as “a brave or experienced soldier or fighter”. That’s everyone I know with MS. We fight in ways that people can’t even fathom, every single day. Symptoms like pain, spasms, cognitive issues, depression, fatigue, and many more. Many so bad you can’t truly understand them unless you experience them. That lack of understanding from others is just one more thing we fight. We call ourselves fighters because that’s what we do. We fight against our symptoms, we fight against the ignorance of others, and we fight against our own minds as we try to deal with the problems we are dealt.
We pick ourselves back up
One of the toughest warriors in history, General George S. Patton, once said “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” To me, that’s always been such a great quote that applies to MS. We are constantly being knocked down, whether by a relapse or a lingering symptom that never leaves. It’s how we deal with those situations that makes us warriors. It’s ok to be knocked down, it’s ok to have problems, as long as we pick ourselves up, literally or figuratively. Being from the Philadelphia area, I also can’t help but think of Rocky (the fictional boxer). If you watch those movies, he gets beaten down a lot but keeps getting back up; he keeps fighting, he’s a warrior. That’s what people with MS do.
My own struggles with this disease have helped strengthen me. It’s hard to say there is a good thing about having MS, but if there is, it’s that it’s awakened that warrior within me. My experiences have made me a survivor. Someone who can handle anything that comes at them. Someone that can get knocked down by life but get back up. It’s helped me to keep living at times when I thought for sure I wouldn’t or shouldn’t. In particular, the relapsing and remitting moments of my early time with the disease helped to teach me that things will be bad, but can and will get better.
We’re in this fight together
I rarely write pieces like this, but I see what so many of us go through, and wanted to reaffirm that I think we all are true warriors. The term “MS Warrior” is my favorite of all of the terms that get tossed around because it so perfectly describes us, all of us. If you’re having a rough time of it, remember, we all have. Also remember though, that you are an MS warrior, and you will pick yourself up and keep fighting! I’m proud to know so many other fellow MS Warriors and to be in this fight with you! Thanks for reading!