MS is an onerous disease. There are times when I feel as if I am in the midst of a tsunami. Everything comes crashing in and all I want is a safe haven, a level of calm. The tsunami consists of depression, physical symptoms and the destruction of peace.
For the purpose of this column, the tsunami is grief. Many of us are familiar with grief. MS and chronic illness undoubtedly will send us between the stages of grief. Just to review, the stages of grief and loss are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I have discovered there is no particular order when referring to the grief process. Often I proceed from denial to depression, or from anger to acceptance. There is no rhyme or reason. At times I have the heart of a warrior, truly believing I will weather the storm. At other times I am filled with doubt and despair. There also are those times when I wish I could feel absolutely nothing. I don’t want to think about this disease or imagine what can and will happen. I just want to pretend, if only for a moment, that I will wake up from this nightmare.
But I know the truth. I cannot awaken from this.
Prior to receiving my official diagnosis, I was fretful and frustrated. I was permanently injured and had been experiencing extensive physical pain. I knew there were some other issues going on. I also realized I was not seeing a neurologist for fun. There was something they were looking and waiting for.
I remember the day I received my MS diagnosis. I was devastated. Although I knew I probably had MS, hearing the confirmation devastated me. I felt as if I cried a river of tears. My neurologist comforted me and I will never forget his words. He said it’s okay to cry, but we have to focus on what we are going to do next. He assured me there were options for treatment and that we were a team.
In this together
My husband consoled me and reminded me that we are in this together. My parents were devastated, but as usual, they reminded me of the faith that was instilled in me and told me that I was made to survive. They said I have a survivor’s heart. My sisters, relatives and friends were supportive.
Many difficult days followed. There were days when I did not want to get up. There were days when I just wanted to surrender. There were the “Why me?” and “Woe is me!” moments. Truthfully, I still have those days and moments. I recall a situation where someone told me “I let you complain long enough.” They basically told me they were tired of hearing my complaints. They said I have MS and I must accept that. The person was very dear to me and I was shocked by the response.
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