The World Doesn't Stop for MS

"I’m givin’ him somethin’ he can feel," sang a sultry Aretha Franklin in '76, referring to the love that was felt for a romantic interest. That somethin' that was to be given, that would be shared, did not stop their world, and the world wouldn’t stop for their somethin'. And it didn’t stop for me either in the summer of ’07 when I had a somethin‘ that I could feel which had nothing to do with love. Rather, it was a chronic, degenerative disease called multiple sclerosis which prompted feelings in me from fear, frustration, and apprehension to confusion, loneliness, and uncertainty.

MS wasn't the only blow I was dealt

And somethin' I learned quickly was that the universe would not deal me that blow and simply stop there. Instead, various somethins' came my way post-diagnosis such as employment situations, a serious auto accident, household upsets, relationship woes, other health issues, child rearing concerns... and at present, a global pandemic.

MS is more than enough

When shopping or dining out, you’re likely to be asked nicely, “Will that be all?” or, “Can I get you anything else?” to which you would respond accordingly. However, if Mother Nature would be so courteous to ask the same, I’d politely – and quickly – respond with, “Oh no, Life, nothing else please. MS is more than enough.” The reality is, MS stops nothing and nothing stops for MS – not even the sudden, virtually uncontrollable spread of an infectious disease that causes a major shift in what the world knows as ‘normal’ and elicits feelings much like those above used to describe when dealing with the perils of MS.

I have the strength and tools to cope with adversity

As COVID-19 rages about, I can’t help but note the advantage in the life I’ve endured – these past 10+ years particularly. Managing my life and maintaining a household with the challenges of MS and whatever else may happen along the way has allowed me the ability to garner a strength to cope under adversity and identify tools and resources to help me in doing so.

Coping with changes

Those tools prepared me to avoid panic, paranoia, and being pessimistic while surviving my plight, my somethin'. The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. With MS, my fight response kicked in, which meant changes were needed, certain decisions needed to be implemented – even if some perhaps uncomfortable – to make life livable. Today, existence with the coronavirus, same thing. A primary example is living under quarantine – it’s ‘home sweet home’ until it can only be home.

How I cope with MS and the stress of a global crisis

The relationship between living with MS and COVID-19 is that this is just another blatant instance that the world doesn’t stop with or at MS (or any other trial). With that said, my plan is to continue to live as I have been with MS: being resilient, staying aware, being careful, positive, prayerful, staying as safe as possible, and trying to keep myself strong and encouraged. I’ve not lived this journey this long to let this rob me of my will, my joy, my fight.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

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