Balancing the Tilt
After my MS diagnosis in 2005 I bought myself a necklace with 3 silver circles engraved with courage, strength and spirit. Of these, the concept I work hardest to maintain is spirit. Spirit is defined as, “the principle of conscious life, or the vital principle in humans mediating between body and soul.’
Born in the Live Free or Die state (NH), my independence is of great value to me. Consequently, I had to find a way to accept the medical aspects of this disease while developing the strength and courage to maintain the essential elements of myself, my spirit.
I use strategies that are intended to keep balance in my life. My approach is to focus on aspects of a healthy lifestyle that include my body and mind. As a 50 year old woman I realize that I am more like the 67 rag top Mustang I admired as a kid. I am still interesting, attractive in my own way and a unique ‘classic’. I need to keep rust at bay and feel the wind in my hair. Feeling the wind nurtures the essential human spirit that often gets neglected with a chronic illness. I try to maintain equilibrium with my health while incorporating mind and spirit connections. For me this entails embracing intellectual, creative and healthful pursuits.
Hearing that you have lesions on your brain can be horrifying. At the time of my diagnosis I was being tutored in Chinese, worked in healthcare research and was on track to read 80+ books that year. I gain strength from reading about others, as well as listening to speakers like Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou and MS advocate Wendy Booker. I have managed to stay relapse free for over six years and my recent neurology visit revealed that I have about 4 lesions. Keeping my MS stable represents a victory that validates the decisions I have made.
Another essential component of my life balance is creativity. For the past two years I have focused on developing my photography skills. I enjoy walking along the Maine coast in pursuit of the perfect sunset or chasing a butterfly toward a nearby flower. In 2005 I experienced a complete loss of sight in my right eye and numbness in both legs up to my stomach. The loss of eyesight, shock of the diagnosis and fatigue caused me to give up photography for the year it took to regain my sight. Consequently, I realize what a gift it is to be able to walk and experience the wonders of nature. Capturing a stunning image and sharing it with others enriches and delights me!
Balance is always a challenge. Today I attended my weekly Strength class in the humidity that has been plaguing us for weeks. At the end of class I did experience the dizzy spell that I had feared. Instead of tilting I sat quietly, took a breath, and relaxed. The dizziness subsided and I was able to stand tall with the rest of the class -- sweat and all! The trick of not tilting is to have the courage to accept that I have MS, the strength to continue to push myself and the SPIRIT to relish each moment.
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?