This New Year, I Resolve to Let Myself Hope
A columnist looks at the impact of MS on his daily life
The new year is just a few days away, so if you haven’t already, you might want to start thinking about resolutions, if you’re so inclined. Although I personally don’t bother these days, about half of American adults do, although that number is declining. One study suggests that about 55% of these resolutions are health-related, such as losing weight. It also points out that the majority of people don’t keep their resolutions.
Even before multiple sclerosis (MS), I wasn’t big on making New Year’s resolutions. If put on the spot, I’d be determined to do something, or do it better, but rarely did I formally “resolve” to accomplish a goal. I suppose the main reason then was that it wasn’t an emphasized tradition in my family. The main reason now is because goals require a plan, and MS makes planning nearly impossible.
Dealing with randomness
From the military, and particularly the U.S. Army Special Forces, I learned to plan in detail. Hope was never a legitimate course of action, and every possibility had to be accounted for by layers of preparation. Our standard was to have a primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency plan (P.A.C.E.) to cover any scenario.
With MS, every hour, day, and week is an unforeseeable and constant “what if.” I like calling it a predictably unpredictable disease, so it isn’t a stretch to say that it’s often expectedly unexpected, too. Trying to anticipate random bouts of fatigue and dealing with constantly varying abilities, both physical and mental, make a mockery of the most detailed plan. There’s a joke that a plan is simply a list of things that aren’t going to happen. MS can make that joke an irritating reality.
Even in my past, no plan was absolutely perfect, and you couldn’t have standard reactions to every imagined event. Changing plans on the fly happened, and I was proud that I could react, but reacting instead of acting quickly becomes tiresome. In the present, my primary progressive multiple sclerosis makes every plan seem like less of a plan and more of a series of reactions.
Spontaneity can be fun, but being forced by MS to constantly react is not the same as being spontaneous. Instead, I have become flexible — unwillingly flexible — and while that’s accommodating, it’s not very fun.
I mentioned that with a rigid plan, hope is not a course of action, but maybe with MS it is. It might actually be one of the best courses of action available to us. Maybe some healthy, realistic hope and faith are the reaction that can become an action.
I think I will make a resolution this year. While I still intend to work hard at dealing with all that MS can throw at me, I resolve to let myself hope.
And I’d like to lose a few pounds.
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.