A Journey With 100 Beginnings

Where did my M.S. story start? I wish I could tell you. There was no moment when a doctor sat me down and told me I have M.S.; I had to figure that out by reading doctor’s notes that had been posted in my Patient Portal. Was it when I lost control of my left hand and leg in May 2021, or was it even earlier? Was it when I would fall over doing a yoga pose that was normally easy for me, or was it when my fingers would refuse to play a song that I’d played on my oboe dozens of times before? Or was it even earlier yet, when a little me was unwittingly exposed to a virus that would help trigger this disease decades later?

Maybe it’s all of the above. Maybe multiple sclerosis is a story with a hundred beginnings but no end.

What I CAN tell you is this

My name is Rebecca. I live in rural Wisconsin with my husband and teenage son. I’m 45 years old, and I’ve been diagnosed with M.S. for fewer than one of those years. But I suspect that I’ve lived with it much longer; in retrospect, I can’t even count how many symptoms I’d brushed off as stress, fatigue, or hypochondria. (The number of healed lesions on my MRIs lend credence to that theory.)

I can also tell you this: I haven’t wanted to share my story before now because I was so afraid of how that story would unfold. What if I eventually can’t work? What if my husband’s health insurance stops covering my treatment? And (worst of all), what if I become a burden? To think about M.S.--much less write about it–was to marinate in terror.

A chance for a new start

But now the new year presents a chance for a new start. Yes, the M.S. is still there, but my constant terror doesn’t have to be. I can follow the wisdom of so many people who remind me to live in the present, savor the beauty that life offers, and be grateful for what I have.

That’s what I hope to do, and that’s why I’m writing this now.

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