MS has changed me. I'm not the woman I used to be. At 53, I no longer work. I would be an unreliable employee. I get confused under stress and physical symptoms are ever-present.

During hot weather, I barely accomplish even the lightest household chores - I'm extremely heat intolerant. My days this week have been spent in a cool, dark room. I haven't been away from the house in a week. Yet I'm enjoying a cup of tea in the coolness of 2:00 a.m.

Even in 'my' season - winter - fatigue is ever present. I enjoy being out in the chill, often damp, Oregon days with only thin cotton clothing - so comfortable! But then the spasticity and muscle spasms get worse in the cold.

I sometimes do 'bad' things: spend money we can't afford on a game that gives momentary pleasure. Disinhibition and impulsivity can strike without any obvious trigger. Then the emotional turmoil of confessing to my ever-loving, always-forgiving, patient husband. This stress too, brings physical symptoms to the fore.

On a daily basis, my bladder is constantly active, often painful. The only option now is Botox - which I'm afraid of.

Because I already suffer from chronic constipation, the usual meds used for overactive bladder aren't for me as they can cause constipation. Part of my daily routine is a dose of laxative. This sometimes upsets my stomach, making me nauseous.

Most days I can comprehend and communicate. Some days I can't. Those nearest and dearest to me have learned MS-ese - that mixture of hand signals and "you know that thing you put clothes in..." Oh, the washing machine. "Yes, that. It's leaking water all over the floor."

I resent, really RESENT, what MS has done to my family, through me. Often I resent myself and think the man I can't live without would be better off without me: he emphatically disagrees.

But I don't think of these things daily. It's usually only when I'm at a medical appointment that I catalogue the changes MS has made.

Even though I often feel emotionally disconnected, I still intellectually recognize a good thing when I see it! Like, -Waking up to a purring cat, not an alarm clock, -Being able to stand, walk and talk, -The best homemade breakfast sandwich served with an, "I love you."

My husband tells me how proud he is that I keep a positive attitude - I have to say I'm pleased with myself too. I may often visit that dark place, but I don't dwell there. I choose to be happy; sometimes I have to fight myself to get there. But I CHOOSE to be happy - even if, for me, it's sometimes not a feeling, but a rational thought (oh! those are nice to have, too! lol).

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