Lego and MS: Lessons from Things That Rip Apart and Reassemble
As a mother of two boys, I’m blessed with an abundance of dirty socks, Nerf darts, and Legos — all of which end up in the laundry (more or less) each week. And of those three kinds of detritus, I must say that the Legos vex me the most. If the kids are building a castle, the crucial piece always comes up missing, and they constantly fight over which piece belongs to whom.
Legos are louder than little pieces of plastic have any right to be — especially when they’re being dumped out en masse early on a Saturday morning. Like tiny ninjas, they’ve destroyed several of our vacuum cleaners from the inside out. And more times than I care to count, I’ve enjoyed the exquisite agony of stepping on one with my bare feet. In those moments, everything is most certainly not awesome.
I also find little homeless figures all over the place, both fully assembled and ripped in half like something from an 80s slasher film. Whether I discover them in cup holders, under the couch, or squirreled away in the bottom of my purse, I tote them up the stairs and chunk them in storage bins, knowing full well they’ll find their way out again before I’ve had a chance to turn off the light and walk down the hall.
I’ve grown rather fond of the little fellas, however. We have a lot in common. As an MS patient, there are days when my legs feel more plastic than flesh and my joints are a little stiffer than normal. My hands might not be shaped like perfect lowercase “c’s,” but that doesn’t change the fact that there are days when I can only manage to hang on to one thing at a time.
When the fatigue is too much or the heat has sucked out every bit of spare energy I have, my smile — like theirs — feels painted on. And though I look put together and slick on the outside, everything beneath the exterior feels hollowed out. A shell where a person used to be.
But here’s the good news. You can rip those little guys apart, scatter their limbs and accessories to the four winds, and guess what? They always come back together. Whether they’re thrown around, stolen, or consumed by the family dog, they’ll endure. They’ll survive. And while they may not be as glossy or sharp after these and other harrowing experiences, they still do precisely what they were created to do — make something unique and fun.
Life is rarely, if ever, perfect. No matter how well we build our worlds up, there are days when we all struggle to keep the pieces together and in working order. But even if things fall apart, that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. And more often than not, reassembling things proves to be just as interesting (and often more fruitful) than the first time around. After all, it’s by trying again — by living life one day at a time — that we learn to do things better, more efficiently, and with more impressive and enduring results. So yeah, in a way, all MS patients are master builders, and others would do well to stand back and watch us work.
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