I just saw a couple of “golden tumbleweeds” swirl past my feet. My attempts at keeping a clean house are no match for Abby’s ever-falling golden locks, and I am OK with that. There was a time when those two balls of hair would have elicited profound anxiety. The anxiety would abate only after I had picked up the hair and cleaned the area. This cycle repeated itself ad nauseam.
While I would love to take full credit for ultimately reducing my anxiety, I must give MS some credit. I write this with a hint of sarcasm. However, the truth is I’m simply too tired or in too much pain to have Abby’s hair (or any mess) dominate my mind. I’ve had to find coping mechanisms for the anxiety that inevitably follows. And so I’ve come to a point where seeing dust bunnies does not have me anxiously hopping in circles.
Before having multiple sclerosis, I lived in a museum. One cannot live in a museum. Lest you think me a liar, ask anyone who came to visit. Everything had a place, and if it left that place, it absolutely had to return. My house was not clean — it was meticulous — making the naturally occurring specks of dust appear Goliath-like. Looking back, I am mortified.
Everything from towels to sheets was put aside to be kept for “show” only. I was a stress ball, and that stress spread like an unwanted virus to family, friends, and whoever shared my sterile space. I inadvertently hurt those I loved with my self-imposed anxious habits.
Talk about a first-world (and first-health) problem. My, how things change.
A couple of years after my MS diagnosis an old friend came to visit. My husband and I had just adopted our first golden retriever, Lucy. My friend walked into my family room to see a wiggling, upside-down Lucy on her oversized bed surrounded by a bevy of colorful toys. Having known me for a decade she asked with surprise and amusement, “Did you ever think you would live like this?” “No,” I replied, “I never thought I could be so happy.”
I was as surprised as she was to hear those words fly so effortlessly out of my mouth, yet it was my truth. In two short years, MS had schooled me by way of necessity, but I had come to own the education. We have plans for our lives, but things rarely go according to our plans. It is on these unplanned journeys that we learn the most about ourselves and our capabilities.
MS was certainly unplanned, yet it has freed me from confines I once thought impossible to escape. While I still have moments of freneticism, abstract anxiety does not rule my day-to-day life. It simply cannot.
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