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.

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 (10)
  • MeganA
    9 months ago

    Omg I’m crying. U are remarkable.

  • 18twdws
    10 months ago

    My husband is the MS guy. dxd at 31. he has rrm
    kind. Hes 74 now and started using a walker about 2 years ago. He is so brave and like you, he always sees the great things in our lives to help me to smile. As his care taker, I am very aware that he needs as much autonomy as possible. Whenever I complain about my backache or migraine he just smiles and says ” all I have is MS” puts things in order.
    we have three beautiful daughters who are very dedicated to him and have become wonderful young women. You keep truckin and remember
    “every minute counts so be in that moment each day” God Bless and keep exercising.
    Mrs. M.S.

  • MamaJama author
    9 months ago

    One of the wonderful things about having multiple sclerosis is it puts everything in your life in perspective. You realize that everything is small stuff. You realize how important it is to be in the moment and to enjoy it fully. Thank you for your kindness and encouraging words. It warms my heart to hear have such a loving support team surrounding your husband. And how well he is done along his journey. Sounds like your daughters are a true testament to the example you and your husband have shown them. You have to be so proud!

  • Brierley3
    10 months ago

    Mama, you are an incredible person, like you I loved being active, running, skiing, re-building houses, even took a bulldozer apart and re-built it, until 2008,
    at first it affected my left side, when you are left-handed it makes writing a challenge! at first they thought I’d had a stroke until 6 months later it affected my right side, that’s when they did an MRI and discovered the truth, my symptoms got worse for the next 6 years but at that time it started to get better for me and has held up so far, when I first met my MS problem I was living in Wisconsin, I am originally from England, after my marriage crumbled, in part due to the stress MS brings into a relationship, in 2016 I gave up my Green Card and moved back to England.
    Whether this has anything to do with my partial recovery or not I am not sure but what I found out is the following, I loved a lot of the things that they say are bad for you, yes that includes chocolate, my cholesterol was always high and in the early 80’s I was told to take statins, as most of us know statins reduce the cholesterol in your body, most of us with MS also know that our bodies are attacking themselves, usually by damaging the myelin sheath where the brain signals travel, what some of us don’t know is that a large part of the myelin sheath is coated with a fatty like substance made up of, you guessed it CHOLESTEROL! I asked a friend of mine who actually worked for a company that produced statins if there could be a conflict, he did not hesitate at all and said yes there is a conflict, especially if a person with MS has a recurrence, the statins will slow down the body’s attempt to repair the damage done by MS, I am not a doctor of any type but I do have that thing that we all rely on, it’s called common sense!
    Keep it up Mamma.
    A.B.

  • MamaJama author
    9 months ago

    One of my favorite phrases is common sense is not common. One thing this journey teaches us and usually we learn by baptismal fire is that we have to be our own advocate. Prior to being diagnosed I had absolutely no medical background. Because I trusted a hundred percent in what I was being told to do by the experts I also experienced worsening of symptoms and have permanent damage because of it. We have to be responsible to look out for everything . It sounds like going back home for whatever reason was the best thing you could have done. Any type of stress in your life with this disease will cause it to go bonkers. I am jealous of your mad skills in rebuilding a dozer. Something that I’ve always wanted to just go play on for a bit. LOL You are a great inspiration, thank you for your kind words!

  • Jan
    10 months ago

    Happy Birthday + 1 week. (If summer birthday grade schoolers can celebrate 1/2 Birthdays, I think this works).

    Will say that I totally get ALL of that: the losses, challenges, but also the ramifications of a positive attitude (critical). Yes, we do still have certain choices. And likely better overall empathy than I may have had or that some have now.

  • potter
    10 months ago

    I look at my garden the same way I managed to get my husband to dig a hole for one tomato plant. I am also heat intolerant and we are having summer temperatures this spring so I am stuck inside. I started the new year badly where I woke up and the right side of my body was numb. I worry about the future not should of and could of’s. My husband is about to retire and he has all these plans and projects he want us to accomplish. He doesn’t seem to understand that it is getting harder for me to be that mobile. I can’t see myself carrying sheet rock down to the basement. I imagine I will be in a happier place once he retires and settles into his new life. I hope you have a happy birthday. Potter

  • MamaJama author
    10 months ago

    Thank you so much! I just have to tell you how much I love your name… That was the name of my invisible friend growing up! LOL thank you for bringing me a smile and good memories! I love life!

  • Picklejuice
    10 months ago

    What a beautiful story from an amazing and inspiring woman. You will never lose your beauty.

  • MSwarrior2013
    10 months ago

    Thank you so much for your story! I also look for all of the positive, funny, and beautiful things not only in my life, but in the world. We don’t have a choice with a disease like ours. Keep fighting, but most of all keep laughing!

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