I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY

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 – winterfatigue 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).

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (31)
  • Julie
    2 years ago

    I am so much like you. There are times I resent what MS has done to me, how I am not working now at age 57, my body seems to be revolting against to me, a husband of 30 year leaving he can’t deal with the disease (really, he said that) and let’s not forget about the financial woes!

    But I am happy! My daughter, son in law and my 11-year-old grand kids have all invested in a home. They live upstairs, I live in the finished downstairs. This has given me the gratifying position of being an on-hands Grandma. There is nothing in this world I love more. Also, nothing that would have been possible if I were still working all day.

    Sometimes we have to let the pleasures and happiness of life dispel the miserableness that MS has whacked us over the head with!

  • KarenLoftus author
    2 years ago

    Jeannine, God bless you! You’ve been through a lot in addition to the rotten stuff MS throws at us. I so admire your strength and positive outlook. Blessings to you and your family!

    Take care.

  • Jennine
    2 years ago

    I must admit to being much like you. The guilt of hibernating, spending and choosing to be happy. I am also lucky to have a supportive husband. If it were not for a very few good people in my life, I wouldn’t be able to find my happy face.

  • KarenLoftus author
    2 years ago

    We definitely need support. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days – I have plenty of them. But I prefer not to dwell in a dark place, so “I chose to be happy.”

  • Blessed
    2 years ago

    How wonderful it is to be reminded that we can choose our feelings. Thank you for sharing this. It warms my heart to read about the love, patience, understanding, support … you receive from your husband. MS like any chronic illness can tear a family apart. I am happy for you. I know choosing to be happy everyday is not easy but I feel that it is worth the effort anyway.

  • KarenLoftus author
    2 years ago

    Amen! Thank you very much, Blessed, for understanding what I was trying to say. It IS worth the effort, and it IS an effort some days – but I refuse to let MS steal, unabated, from me.

    Take care.

  • Dianne Scott
    2 years ago

    my.. I so could have written this -particularly the last paragraph! Keep fighting, stay strong.. We’re all here for each other. ☺

  • KarenLoftus author
    2 years ago

    Thank you, Dianne! You encourage me. 🙂

    Take care.

  • Wendy
    2 years ago

    Thank you for the reminder, Karen. I still have many positive, good thing and people in my life and sometimes I get lazy and forget to take advantage of them and also appreciate. I needed this today!

  • KarenLoftus author
    2 years ago

    Thank you, Wendy! We all need outside support sometimes and just reading the positive comments lifts me up.

    Take care.

  • TracyBelleLee
    3 years ago

    How do you choose it? I don’t even remember what it feels like! Where is the box I check so that I can be happy also? My son used to be my bright spot but now all I can think about are all the ways I haven’t been there for him. All the ways I fail him! What kind of example do I set for him when I never leave my house, have no friends and am constantly fighting back tears due to brain damage. My most recent MRI showed damage to my cerebellum and brain stem. This means that the communication between my emotions and my frontal cortex (that controls reason, logic, perspective and self control) is interrupted. Therefore my emotions run unchecked and sadness and regret take control. I don’t choose it, I used to be a rational, reasonable person and I long to be that way again. I guess I won’t ever get my personality back and that is all I had left! People always say MS doesn’t change who you are on the inside, but brain damage does and isn’t that what MS is?

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Dear Tracy
    I’m so sorry. Very sorry you’re having such a hard time. MS is brain damage, it does change us. I also have disturbance in my emotional responses vs. perspective vs. rationality. I can’t imagine your suffering with a child to look after. But YOU are not failing, you have a disease that’s causing all this. Do you have a good medical care team? I had to shop around to find mine, but am happy with all of them. There’s a time and place for meds, psychiatric help, and physical help. I’m blessed to have all three. I wish I had an answer for you. I DO send Love and prayers your way. Take care.

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Dear LuvMyDog

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had the stuffing knocked out of you.

    It was a concern of mine that my post may be upsetting, or be seen as “Happier than thou,” when that was the furthest from my mind. It was just me sharing, knowing that the dark place waits for me just around the corner at any time, and every day choosing to be happy doesn’t alleviate the ever-present symptoms. It just gives some control over my suddenly uncontrollable body, mind and life.

    I’m glad you have your dog; they are such a treat!

  • LuvMyDog
    3 years ago

    “it gives you some control…??
    I don’t seem to have any control anymore regarding my attitude. A tiny, tiny bit maybe for when I go to the grocery store or out with a friend for lunch and I have to seem reasonably pleasant and somewhat friendly. Basically what I’m doing is being a phony, something I do not believe in and never did before.
    I am at a point where just about anything and everything irritates me. Noise is a BIG thing! As long as it’s quiet and I don’t hear loud talking or loud music or kids screaming up and down the street, I remain fairly sane.
    But to say I’m happy…I have no idea what that is anymore.

  • LuvMyDog
    3 years ago

    I’d like to say I choose to be happy…yup, that WOULD be my choice, buy I’m not.
    I’ve been dealing with MS for more than 30 years and as I get older and older, it affects me more and more.
    We recently had some extremely hot and humid days. It isn’t the heat as much as the humidity that really knocks the sh*t out of me. I could not do anything on those days and it was extremely frustrating and annoying. I curse and swear a lot on those days. My attitude goes from half-way-decent to I hate the world and everybody in it.
    My dog is the only thing on this planet that keeps me somewhat sane and gets me through so many ugly days and nights.

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    I’m not sure why posts get cut, but here’s my close.

    I wish you comfort on your bad days and peace at all times. I send you and your Earth Angel love and best wishes.

    Take care.

  • B.L.
    3 years ago

    Karen, I really must commend you and your husband! Y’all are such a Shining Example of how We should be happy, regardless of MS! Your post has almost given me the confidence to begin dating again:) Keep up your healthy attitude! It’s going to help out a lot of people like me, I just know it ! 🙂 B

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Hello, Bentley! I sure hope you get the best from life. And when you’re ready, you WILL begin dating again 😉 AND it will be as good as YOU want it to be.

    Thank you very much for your encouragement. It means a lot knowing I’m not the only one out there feeling these things, having these problems, trying to stay positive! YOUR comments lift ME up – Thank you!

    Take care.

  • JeepJohn
    3 years ago

    Karen,
    I can really relate to your life. Your positive attitude is the key to finding enjoyment in your life and being happy. Having a great partner/husband/advocate is soo important and encouraging.
    My wife is the same way, and I don’t want to imagine the rest of my life without her or my two small children.
    Your an inspiration to all of us MS’ers Karen. I hope your days are filled with happiness and joy.

    John

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Hello, John! I actually said more than ‘Awww’ so I’m not sure what happened. Anyway, I’ll have another go… lol

    Thank you for your encouragement and sharing! That’s inspirational to us all. It’s often hard for us to sray positive, but it’s worth the try, isn’t it? Thank you so much for sending me a comment – I appreciate you.

    Wishing you all the best in life.
    Take care.

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Awwww..

  • Karen
    3 years ago

    Wow!Karen, (I’m Karen also) I feel like I wrote this story!We have so much in common. I actually trying to get out of Virginia and move to Oregon. My eldest son is over there and loves it! Take care and stay positive.

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Hi, Karen! I hope you’re well. Good luck with your move. Be safe in those storms down your way.

    Take care.

  • skcullers
    3 years ago

    Find dried fruit helps as laxative. Have constant bladder infections so prophalactically on Antibiotic. In Oregon too and heat is a killer seems like just having lots of lay low days= UGH!

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Thank you! I’ll try dried fruit. I’m so sorry your bladder infections are so frequent, and you’re having lots of low days. The heat we’ve been having here is awful! Hope you feel better soon.

    Take care.

  • Nikki
    3 years ago

    You’ve described my life to a T as well. It’s so hard to stay positive so I applaud your success 🙂

    I take Myrbetriq for the hideous bladder issue and probiotic Pearls to contract constipation. I wish the Myrbetriq worked better but the Pearls are amazing.

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Nikki. I’ll look into the Pearls – thanks for the tip! I’m a wary of Mybetriq because it can also raise blood pressure and I’m already taking HBP med. I got on well with Oxybutynin except for the constipation, so if the Pearls would counteract the constipation caused by meds, that would be a relief.

    Take care.

  • Deborahpoetry
    3 years ago

    Thank you for this. It’s like you’ve described my life to a T. I know MS is different for everybody, but you and I seem to be having the same life.

    Stay positive. It’s all we can do.

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Deborah! It’s not easy fighting depression and not dwelling on what we’ve ‘lost,’ but it’s worth the fight!

    Take care.

  • Thomas Bellas
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. I see a lot of myself in this post. Thanks. 🙂

  • KarenLoftus author
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Thomas! It’s tough to stay positive but beneficial to us.

    Take care.

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