With MS, Everything Changes
A young man recently wrote in the MS Stories section on MultipleSclerosis.net about his life, and it brought up a theme I have often talked about – hearing the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis brings major changes to all of us and sometimes everything changes, as he wrote.
His was a story of wandering - well not really wandering, because his fanny was parked in front of his computer for several years, living in a virtual world of gamers. Dropping out of not just school but living life, he was hidden away with only his online friends as his companions. Then all that changed when his body began to fail, but I don’t want to ruin his own words and tell his story.
More than once I have heard that having Multiple Sclerosis, as crappy of a disease as it is, has made a person more productive and a better human - I know it did that for me. Perhaps it was because my diagnosis came when I was 54, well past the usual young age of 20-40, and I was already well established in my relationships and job. Our two children were already adults- I had done my job as mom and moved on to the fun part of being a grandma. I had the luxury of time to understand my diagnosis, get excellent medical care thanks to my employer’s insurance, and then turn my attention to what I could do to connect with other in the MS community and perhaps make it a better world for all of us.
The best psychotherapy I could have for my MS was to take control in a way that others could benefit from as well. I began by finding an online community where I could interact with new members of the MS club- remembering the overwhelming part of those newly diagnosed days. Then I moved on to finding local support groups - attending meetings where I could sit with others also living with MS and engage in sharing ideas. In this way, MS changed me for the better.
I also became much more aware of the people around me who appeared to need extra help –I’ve never been insensitive to people needing kindness, but that awareness became heightened once I could envision myself possibly being in that role someday. My mother tells me I was the child who didn’t know a stranger and my extrovert personality helps. MS didn’t change my personality but it gave me focus to watch out for others in a much different way.
If it hadn’t been for my MS diagnosis, I would not have made the friends I have who are scattered across this country and more in other countries. The online communities I frequent are filled with some of the most wonderful people I could meet, even though we do it through the written words and not in person.
My early story involved lots of sitting and waiting for the world to come to me. Post-MS Diagnosis something in me woke up, just as this young man wrote in his story, and I took a giant step out into the MS world. If I were to find out tomorrow I was ‘cured’ or didn’t have Multiple Sclerosis, I would still remain connected and active with the larger community. Having MS may have weakened my body and lightened my savings account, but it has added a richness that can’t be bought.
Be sure to read his story. I believe it will make you smile and I hope it will allow you to find a few ways that MS has changed you for the better.
Wishing you well,
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?