My Conscious Decision

I was diagnosed at the age of 34 with multiple sclerosis. Over the course of the last 11 years this disease has slowly tried to take away what I once was positive I couldn't live without. My vision in my right eye, any sense of feeling on my entire right side, the strength in my legs, my balance, my heat tolerance. I have re-taught myself to eat, write and paint, and have fought so hard to keep my ability to walk more times than I care to remember. But rather than thinking of all of the cannot's and the used to's... I find myself in the position that a lot of others do right now. With overwhelming gratitude for all of the things I have left. The one thing that neither disease nor disaster can take away is our conscious decision to have a good attitude and our ability to help each other get through any situation.

When I was diagnosed the doctor stated they were unaware of a cause or a cure. I had no idea what MS was, other than all of these odd feelings I was experiencing. That week I did a lot of research. The information I discovered I decided to hypothetically put in a box on the shelf and store it away until later. I knew no matter what I would never get to the point that I was reading about so I stopped. I didn't want to know what the end result was. I didn't want to know how bad it could get. Since that moment I have fought with every ounce of my being.

After my last relapse and literally overnight finding that I not only lost the ability to walk consistently, but I also lost the ability to function in my surroundings and be an active participant in my own life. Being suddenly put in this position has been extremely mentally and physically challenging. I do have days I get discouraged. I used to love to run. After my last failed treatment I use a walker at all times. My ability to stand for any period of time is minimal. Dancing was always a part of my everyday life and now I cannot balance. As a sun lover, I always thought the hotter the better. Now I have to stay cool in my home during the summer months. As heat now exhausts me. Some days I just want to jump on my bike and go on a ride. Oddly enough I miss mowing my lawn. I want to easily go to my garden in the backyard. The ground that used to be manageable now feels like a dirt mogul BMX track that I used to rock out when I was seven. By the time I make it to my garden I'm too tired and overheated.

Even though the lack of these items sometimes feels overwhelming. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. As I don't feel sorry for myself. I know nothing in this life happens by accident. Everything happens for a reason. I just have to find out what the reason is. So rather than seeing all of these things as stumbling blocks I have set my intention to view them as stepping stones. And once again I stated with intention: I will not give up, I will not stop fighting, I will keep smiling I will keep laughing and I will keep dancing no matter how abbreviated it may be.

For so long I had felt so lost. My career, that I worked so hard for and invested so much time in seemed like it was gone in an instant. I thought I had done everything I was SUPPOSED to do in life. I didn't do anything wrong to be afflicted with or cause this disease. So when I was asked what do you do? I felt speechless, lost. After being forced to examine what I defined as my life from a different perspective, I know now just having a genuine smile, sharing in laughter, saying a kind word or helpful gesture is enough. Show others why you are so grateful for them. I loudly say I LOVE YOU to the people I see standing on the corner asking for help, as I can only imagine how long it may have been since they heard those words. Everyone should feel loved.

It's easy for me to put things in perspective if I think of each moment as if I'm packing to go on the trip of a lifetime. On my right I have a suitcase which is heavy enough, let alone you add more things to it. I have decided I'm not taking anything on my trip with me that weighs me down. On my left I have the things I want to take with me. I just so happened to name the stuff on my left... CHOCOLATE... everything that goes in that pile weighs nothing. It's all of the things that make me happy, anything and everything that makes me smile or giggle, my great memories and good feelings.

At the strike of midnight I celebrate my 45th birthday. I can remember exactly where I thought I would be in my life by now. But why would I do that to myself? Why carry that burden? I don’t want to use that space in my brain for something that is in the past and I cannot change. I choose to let those memories go so I can free up so much more room and welcome all of the wonderful things that are yet to come on this journey.

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