Six weeks ago, Abby, my golden retriever, had a seizure. I was sitting behind her when she began to rock; I have never moved so fast. I could only see the bloodshot whites of her eyes as she whimpered lightly and I began to wail. I intuitively hugged her, begging her to come back to me, but immediately released my hold. If she were to seize, she needed to do so unrestrainedly. In only pajamas, I simultaneously grabbed my cardigan and keys and called the vet to let them know I was en route. My husband lifted her into our SUV and we left in tearful, fearful bewilderment at what had just transpired. After a thorough examination, her seizure was deemed idiopathic — of unknown origin.
Unknown is not my forte. Amid ambiguity, my brain relentlessly searches for certitude. This was no exception. It took two weeks to stop the influx of what-ifs and come to a place of calm. I made a conscious decision to let go.
Letting go does not mean ignoring that which you can improve. It is accepting that which you cannot. Living with progressive MS is a finite balance of both. While there are many things one can do to improve quality of life, stressing about variables outside our influence is exhausting.
It is also a work in progress for this self-described analytic.
It is only by virtue of survival that I acquiesce. Controlling any situation does not equate or hasten the desired outcome and is often a lesson in futility. I have witnessed precious energy evaporate over a perception that holding on tighter will affect change. It does not. What it does do is exhaust vital resources, or what I like to call “cognitive capital.” We bank this wealth and spend it daily navigating our life with MS. I refuse to squander such a precious commodity.
An unexpected side effect of my deference has been fewer highs and lows in the inevitable capitulation life with MS brings. To say I am even-keeled would be a laughable overstatement yet I find myself greeting things with welcome objectivity. I am learning to listen to my body and act on what I hear. I have become better adept at living life on life’s terms. I have become better at living.
Stress and worry exacerbate MS, and both have taken a backseat to the beauty of reality. While many would understandably object to the idea that my reality is beautiful, I humbly disagree. Life with progressive multiple sclerosis is challenging, but it is life. More importantly, it is my life and a sacred gift. It has taken four decades to look at the cards life has handed me and smile. I am not smiling because I chose these cards, rather, I have learned to accept my hand. Each of us is gifted a hand and left to decide if and how we will play. Regrettably, some choose not to play while others lament over their hand.
The game clock is on and I want to play my hand.
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