A former colleague recently asked me, “How are you doing in your battle with MS?” It was a legitimate question, not one of those throwaway lines of mock concern that we often hear. We were discussing the death of a former colleague who had been diagnosed with MS in 1996. She was just 59 years old when she left us a week ago.
Annie’s death and the “how are you doing” question got me thinking about the course of my own MS. I was diagnosed in 1980 and I’m now 70 years old. So, I’ve been stumbling — and now usually riding — along the MS road for a lot of years. And, here’s the thing: I’ve never thought of myself as “battling my MS.” In fact, I have a great dislike for that phrase.
For me, living with MS is more like having a constant companion. Some days we get along very well; on others, my companion can be a real pain in the butt. (I’d rather use a stronger word, but my editors would cringe). Sometimes we arm-wrestle — and my MS medications have helped me win many of those contests — but we never battle.
Yes, MS has robbed me of the ability to be as active as I’d like to be. I can’t play tennis, but I can — and do — swim. I travel. I enjoy music and reading. I can’t “walk” my dog, but I can take him out using my scooter. There’s no battle underway when I’m doing these things.
I know that I’ve been very fortunate. My MS has progressed relatively slowly over the past four decades. I’m sure that there are others who do consider their lives with MS to be a battle, but I don’t. If you’re really interested in me, just ask, “Is anything new with your MS?” or, “Are your Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) treatments helping?” or, simply, “How ya doin’?” But, please, don’t ask how my battle is going.
You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
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