Upon Reflection, I’m Determined to Seize the Day
Do you think about death? I do — a lot. I mean, like almost every day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suicidal, and I’m trying not to sound morbid. I love my my family, my friends, and my life. I’m not depressed. But I do think about what’s down that road around the next bend. Usually it’s just a brief “I wonder when?” moment. But sometimes it’s, “Will I leave suddenly or slowly? Will my body go first or will my mind gradually fade away?”
It can’t be that unusual for a guy in his seventh decade to be thinking these thoughts, right? Especially a guy who has multiple sclerosis. The only question I remember asking my neurologist when he told me more than 41 years ago that I have MS is, “Will it shorten my lifespan?” His answer was that statistics showed I might live about seven years less than a healthy person.
Incredibly, that figure has barely budged since I was presented with it back in 1980. Despite all of the advances in treatment in the past four decades, the lifespan of a person with MS is still predicted to be about five to 10 years shorter than the general population.
That statistic means a lot more to me today than it did when I was 32. That’s especially true considering a study, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, that I recently read. Researchers at the University of Colorado, the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Virginia Commonwealth University estimate that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the average life expectancy in the U.S. dropped by nearly 2.26 years between 2019 and 2021, to 76.6. That’s some stick in the eye when you have MS and turn 74 in a few months!
What’s a guy to do? I can say “Woe is me!” or I can follow the advice of the poet Horace, who wrote “carpe diem” in 23 B.C., meaning, “seize the day.” I’ve always tried to do that while living with MS. I follow the words of motivational speaker Vivian Greene, who wrote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass … It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
As I wrote in a column three years ago, “I live with my MS as best I can. I don’t ‘battle’ it. I live with it. I go with the flow.”
So my wife and I are about to head out on a short vacation with our kids and grandkids. And I’ll probably do some dancing in the rain.
You’re invited to dance on over and investigate my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.