More Than 50 Shades of Gray

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

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Spring is rapidly approaching. It’s warming up outside. The trees are starting to bloom. And inside our home, I am once again plotting to refresh the place.

Out with old decorations, and in with the new! Declutter that closet! Donate the table and chairs that still look great because you never use them, and turn that dining room into something altogether different!

I’ve been feeling absolutely stuck lately. Granted, I’ve spent much more time at home over the last two years, like most folks, thanks to COVID-19. And that’s likely exacerbated my feelings. However, I probably would’ve felt this way even without pandemic stress. Rooms that are supposed to comfort and inspire leave me feeling trapped and stifled, especially my library/office.

I thought a fresh coat of paint would be a great idea, so rather than stare at four brick-red walls, I could enjoy cool gray ones. Thus, the hunt for the perfect color began.

This just in: There are a lot of shades of gray. I mean, a lot.

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From what I can tell, Behr has more than 300 grays in its lineup, ranging from greige to nearly black. Some have green undertones, others purple, and still others blue. For someone like me who wants everything to be perfect, it’s been a maddening process, to say the least. I’m trying to overcome a bit of paralysis by analysis so I can get the walls painted and all the furniture back in place.

It reminds me of when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 17 years ago. After I got the news, I felt numb and unable to process what I’d heard. I didn’t know where to turn. What medicine was I supposed to take? What about side effects? Does diet play a role? I live in the South — what do you mean I shouldn’t allow myself to get hot? Have you ever been in Georgia in the summer?

I sat in a puddle of tears and felt sorry for myself for quite some time. I refused to take a step in any direction because I felt overwhelmed and a bit hopeless. But eventually, I began to shake off the lethargy, do the research needed to live with this condition, and take positive steps toward managing it. I learned to take it “bird by bird,” writer Anne Lamott’s version of step by step.

It took some time, but I eventually wrapped my fingers around it. I made good decisions with the help of my doctors and trusted friends, and I began settle into a new kind of normal.

Finding out you have MS can be a daunting, heartbreaking experience, and if you’re not careful, the diagnosis will get the upper hand. Don’t let it. You’re the one in charge, no matter what the test results say. So don’t give in to pity or fear. Don’t let it dictate the terms of your life any more than you must. Take the time required to process it, and then begin to move forward with courage and grit.

Or as I’ve been telling myself this week, “Just pick a damned shade and get on with it.”

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.


Carleen A Radanovich avatar

Carleen A Radanovich

Good column! My story almost exactly but too much to write.

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

So glad you enjoyed it, Carleen! Nice to know there's a fellow overthinker out there. :) Be well!


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