The Moment I Thought the Unthinkable
Yes, I remember. How could I forget? It was three short years ago on a fading summer September morning. I had awakened a bit later than usual, wanting to steal the extra moments of restfulness after a hectic and stressful previous day.
With body and limbs still full of slumber, I knew I really did need to get up. My son had just returned to live with me and we had made plans to get some necessities done and maybe sneak in a fast food lunch, milk-shake included.
As I procrastinated and remained lying in bed, I heartily yawned and proceeded to instinctively stretch---wait. That didn’t feel right. My legs and the sensation, it was new and oh so unexpected. Both limbs felt stiff, yet I felt as though I could feel every tiny movement deep within my thighs, my calves, my ankles…even my toes. I sensed every fiber and effort of labored movement, and then suddenly and in unison, I felt my heart pounding within my chest out of shear fright; for at that moment I now realized the invader within called Multiple Sclerosis was no longer hiding but had brazenly sought me out to make its presence undeniably known.
Stunned and more than a bit dazed I was, that fear had gripped me in this manner. You know, like when driving and a squirrel darts in front of the car and your heart palpitates not knowing whether to slam on the brakes or just plain hit the damn thing! Overcome, within an instant I asked myself “if I had to dart out of my room or home because of an intruder or storm danger and do so quickly—could I? Or, “if I had to move urgently to extinguish a kitchen fire from an overheated pan of grease-- could I do that”? All of the possible “could not do any longers” poured down through my mind straight to the very pit of my stomach, landing there with a thud left only with the unyielding slowness of time for me to try to digest and accept these possible fates. Long denied reality bites had bitten me square in the present and it hurt. It hurt badly. This stark realization provoked an instinctual fight or flight rush that made me say “NO this cannot be happening to me”! But it was happening, and now for the first time I truly considered that the day could come that I would not be able to walk--at all.
Let me state right here and now that I most certainly am not comparing my form of MS to that of an illness that is immediate or more likely terminal, but sometimes it feels like a slow death. A death not to life as in living and breathing, but instead to a way of life; the way I have lived physically before MS and even in the earlier course of it. I have experienced a way of life that has been diminished in ways not just bodily, but at times mentally and emotionally, even spiritually. Those precious parts begin to dissipate and you are left wondering how far down the slope you will slide.
As the slow plummet of capabilities occurred, I have clung to a vague form of hope itself to stall myself from the total depths of hopelessness. I found quite unexpectedly during this opposition to the force of MS, there has been a rebirth of a sort. These rebirth pangs have caused my mind to land in places never gone to before. Hidden places where deeper understanding of self has happened. In this place I have contemplated things, some unwanted and even some new paths, that I might want to explore now. Things that likely I never would have thought about if I was still in prime physical capacity. This over time acquired perspective on self, is that the present new me is a combination of pre and post MS lessons and experiences; and I believe, a better me.
Contemplating the “unthinkable” ultimately has ignited that an inner, previously hidden, unknown self of activity of mind and spirit. My constant challenge is to harness it and use it to live a happy and meaningful life. Such a life that is possible to have, with or without the ability to walk.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?