Finding Myself in Multiple Sclerosis: Loving the B-side

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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neuropathy, positivity, husband, laughter, connecting, i am fine, self-care and MS, finding myself

I lie on my stomach in a Downward Dog fail. I am doing yoga, or something like it. I open my eyes. I spy a golden retriever tumbleweed float across the travertine floor. I feel my body flinch. It knows how much I want to get up and clean. It is an autonomic response for a Type A. Despite the pain and heavy ache in my legs the urge is there. I remind myself that yoga is more important. I am more important. And as I exhale, I let go.

Type B for the win.

But I must confess. Much like the 45s of my youth, I like my B-side better. This lesser-known version is the best version of myself. A version discovered only by proxy. My Type A persona was no match for multiple sclerosis. Although a high achiever, I was also deeply anxious. Rigidity left little room to relax if something needed doing. There was always something more to do, to see or accomplish. Sadly, I rarely found intrinsic satisfaction. I struggled for years.

Until the summer of 2010.

Following a family trip, inordinate fatigue leveled me. I could not stay awake for dinner, let alone work. Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. What was later found to be mononucleosis was followed by an inability to walk, talk correctly, or think straight.

Welcome, multiple sclerosis. While the acute symptoms ceased, its impact on my reality continued. I was forced to slow down. In hindsight, this was the ultimate gift. This was the answer to my prayer. But hindsight takes time and clarity takes perspective — none of which I had nor desired. Instead of grieving my loss, I resented my present. I was paralyzed by more than just the MS.

There is something far worse than physical atrophy. The atrophy of a spirit is devastating. The crippling of a soul is the greatest handicap. My soul was on life support and faith resuscitated me. I trusted that I could adapt. Little did I know I would flourish.

My slower pace gifted me time to appreciate every moment. My tunnel vision was replaced by a beautiful periphery. As my appreciation for others grew so did the love for myself. I wanted to be the best version of myself. No other litmus mattered.

My body and mind continue to change as a result of disease progression. I stumble and I fall. I drop and break things. I forget everyday tasks. I can no longer do the things I could just one year ago. But my spirit shines and my soul is at peace.

The B-side was worth the wait.


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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Cynthia avatar


Thank you

Sherri W. avatar

Sherri W.

Jennifer -
What a beautiful column! Especially, “There is something far worse than physical atrophy. The atrophy of a spirit is devastating. The crippling of a soul is the greatest handicap.” So true. So very true. Thanks for sharing your heart.


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