As the year comes to a close, I find myself in a reflective state. This mild nostalgia visits each December and accompanies me into the New Year. I usually honor this slight melancholy by thinking of all that has transpired in a mere 365 days. Today, I find myself reaching further. I think of my diagnosis eight years ago last month.
I remember the exact moment I heard the words multiple sclerosis. I remember that scared, tearful girl attempting to assimilate every word the doctor spoke. I remember thinking it was a dream.
I wish I could sit next to that frightened girl. I would reach out my hand in solidarity and quiet assurance. I would let her know a few things. Here’s what I’d say:
You have multiple sclerosis and you are going to be OK. You are filled with fear based on preconceived notions. They are gross generalizations and not how your story will unfold thus far.
The quick immersion of tests, appointments, and medications overwhelm you. The cost alone is staggering, as most of your medications are not covered by insurance. But you persevere. You fight. You stay bold. You do whatever it takes.
You become an advocate for MS by participating in Walk MS and raise almost $8,000. The day you are unable to walk the course will devastate you. But it will not last. You persevere. You fight. You inspire.
Watching your body change before your eyes will scare and sadden you. In three years and after two disease-modifying therapies, you will lapse into secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Your lesions will proliferate in your spinal cord and greatly affect your ability to walk. You will fall. You will cry. You will experience pain unlike any other. You will begin chemotherapy in hopes of slowing the progression.
You live in hope.
You begin to feel the physical effects of this disease, but you keep moving forward — one day at a time and sometimes one moment at a time. You find that your marriage is truly about commitment and mutual trust. You feel blessed. Your family, faith, and friends become your sacred support.
You become a columnist for a well-known online periodical and begin to affect change. Your readers inspire you with their candor and you share a sacred reciprocity unlike any other. Your deadlines both encourage and intimidate but serve to enrich your purpose. You feel your purpose.
You will be tested. You will be challenged. You will fall over and over, but you will get up more times then you will have fallen. You persevere. You learn to adapt to change and learn that change is your only constant. You create new possibilities as a direct result. Your body will slow, but you will find beauty in your ability to notice that which once went unseen. You find solace in spending time with your beloved golden retrievers. You cherish the small things in life for they are the big things.
You choose happiness. You choose life.
You are a phoenix and choose to rise and thrive.
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.