How I Find Certainty While Living With an Unpredictable Illness
I glanced at the clock: 15:51. I was relieved.
For some reason, I’ve been obsessed with time lately. I’m not sure if it’s due to lockdown anxiety or the ups and downs of my multiple sclerosis, but time has become a constant source of comfort for me. Weird, isn’t it?
When we feel out of control with various parts of our lives, we search for a constant. Time goes by every day without fail.
I blame my husband for causing this obsession. After reading “Atomic Habits,” a book by habits expert James Clear, he added a digital clock in every room of our house, in an effort to increase his productivity.
Because who doesn’t want to know that they shower for exactly four minutes?
I support whatever he does. The problem with having digital clocks everywhere is that it’s caused me to develop a weird obsession with time.
It all started right after I began experiencing tingling whenever I looked down. A few days later, I noticed my hands felt a little strange. It was mild at first, then became more intense.
“Here we go again,” I thought. My mind quickly went into a downward spiral. What if this happens? What if that happens? It was like the end of my world as I knew it.
I’m fortunate that I haven’t relapsed since being diagnosed eight years ago.
Over the last eight years, I almost forgot what it’s like to have something unplanned happen to your body. At first, I freaked out. Finally, I accepted that it’s how life is with MS. I don’t think I’ll ever be used to this feeling of uncertainty.
A day later, my hands felt burnt, as if someone had held a flame to them while I slept. On the surface, they look normal. Nobody seems to understand what I mean.
A day after that, my left leg decided to do the same thing. People without an illness don’t know how lucky they are not to experience this.
As silly as it sounds, the only thing that settled me and prevented a full-on panic attack was going to the bathroom at precisely 12:34, 10:02, 22:55, or 8:08 (which I call “BOB time” because the numbers look like they spell out “B:OB” on a digital clock). The symmetry on the clock fills me with relief.
It’s official. I think my string of MS “blips” has made me lose it.
Finding something constant is so essential when we have such an unpredictable disease. It gives us comfort in times of distress.
I’ve spoken before about the roles that uncertainty and certainty play in our lives. Having an equal share of both is vital for our happiness.
We get plenty of uncertainty from our bodies and the world around us. We need to balance it out with something certain. I think that’s why time works so well for me.
Do you have something that brings you certainty amid the chaos, however strange it may sound? Please share in the comments below.
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