Silver Linings

Silver Linings

A silver lining is the hopeful side of a situation that might seem gloomy on the surface. A metaphor for optimism, this accurately describes who I am. This is not to say that I don’t experience the inevitable darkness that accompanies those trying days living with progressive multiple sclerosis, I just try not to focus on them.

With my diagnosis of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis seven years ago, I had no idea what lie ahead. From Copaxone to Tysabri and now Rituxan, it has been almost surreal to witness the progression of this disease as well as the undeniable changes to me both physically and emotionally. Now with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, I’ve come to accept this disease and the uncertainty it brings. How? As cliché as it sounds, I live one day at a time. Managing the symptoms of an ever-morphing disease can only be done by living in this manner.

So, here I sit, preaching the merits of living in the moment while simultaneously dreading Monday’s chemotherapy treatment. Hey, I never said I was perfect. And this disease can get scary, especially when you see progression despite treatment. So what do we do?  We live. We take joy where we can find it and we spread it like wildfire. I know it’s anything but easy, but I can’t let this disease define me — I won’t let it. It can take my legs along with some cognitive function but it sure as hell isn’t taking my soul.

And just FYI, this mindset didn’t come built into my psyche. As with anything, I practice gratitude and have to choose happiness on many days when I’d much rather choose apathy or sadness. I understand that sometimes it’s not as easy as a choice, as those with MS have a far higher incidence of depression. I’ve been there, and some days I find it better to metabolize whatever emotion prevails, as it can then slowly seep out of my system.

So why silver linings? It embodies not only whom I practice to be daily, but also my heartfelt belief that each and every tumultuous situation brings with it a blessing. Sometimes they’re not obvious, but they are there, and in time they will make themselves known. Sometimes it’s as simple as you coming out the other side, making it through the storm. What a blessing, a silver lining.

I’m grateful to be here and look forward to sharing more, not only about my journey with multiple sclerosis, but also my journey in life. As I sit here, my sweet golden retriever rescue lies at my feet, one of them numb. But there she lies atop it, looking at me and loving what she sees. She doesn’t see my pronounced drop foot or the weight gain from the constant stream of steroids. She doesn’t get upset when I drop a dish or make fun of my stammering. She’s never impatient with my cognitive fog (unless I forget to feed her). She just sees me as whole.

And I am.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.

5 comments

  1. Aaron says:

    I suffer from Primary Progressive MS – you cannot transition from RRMS (Relapsing Remitting MS) to PPMS Primary Progressive MS.
    Primary Progressive is as the title suggests Progressive from the onset with no relapses.
    RRMS can transition to SPMS; Secondary Progressive (as the words again indicate being secondary ie 2nd not 1st!)
    There is RPMS; Relapsing Progressive – a different form of MS again.
    Pretty simple really. Miscommunication of the type of MS affects others with MS.

    • Shirl D says:

      My thoughts too, as someone with SPMS. However, the main point of this piece was to promote living with MS (in whatever format) “one day at a time”.
      I can recommend this as I’ve been living this way since 1996, throughout a botched diagnosis, rediagnosis, symptomatic treatments (no disease modifying drugs) and increasingly invasive urinary surgery. None of this would have thrilled me as a prospective life path in 1996 but taking all of it one day at a time, then the next one,and today, then tomorrow, has been the most successful part of my whole life.
      I believe it is MS that has disabled me and society that continues to hinder my daily progress, with its kerb heights, narrow doorways and inaccessible washrooms.
      Still I’m smiling; still I am hopeful for tomorrow even when I go to bed glad today is over. The finer points of my M&S type are the least of my issues with daily life.
      This is a good article.

      • Jenn Powell says:

        Hi Shirl,

        Thank you so much.

        Our world is certainly not physically conducive to our disease and that can make each day so frustrating. The fact that you’ve been able to smile amidst these challenges is testamount to your spirit.

        Have a happy Friday!

        Kindly,
        Jenn

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