“As we sail thru life, don’t avoid rough waters, sail on because calm waters won’t make a skillful sailor”
Ah, yes, the stowaway…to whom or what are you referring, Kellie? Well, I thought it was about time to talk about the big pink elephant in the room…the MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Many people have asked me what it is like, while others politely avoid the conversation altogether in fear of offending or making me feel bad…yes, I know they do that. So, I want to enlighten you all about what it’s like for me to carry a stowaway around all day long. It’s a stowaway because I didn’t invite it. It’s not mine. And I will never claim it as my disease, my burden, my anything. Period. That said, allow me to explain my position as its host.
Disease is nothing more than our bodies attempting to get our attention in a really big way. Chances are that there were many subtle signs way before the condition showed up. For me, there was always an extreme sensitivity to outside stimulation, motion, light, sound, and even smells. I also experienced chronic migraine for well over a decade before there was any sign of MS. All of these things were clues that my body was not handling something very well. When I say “something” I mean my body, mind, and spirit. That something or lots of somethings can be imbalance in any or all of our three parts. I listened and paid attention sometimes, but sometimes I ignored and masked the pain and symptoms with meds. The moral to this paragraph is this: Disease doesn’t show up overnight. Getting sick is a process just like getting healthy. So, I was well into the disease process long before I wanted to pay attention to what my body was saying.
I don’t have chronic migraine anymore. I managed to axe that one with a big diet change and some other therapies that served my body, mind, and spirit. Eventually, we all have that wake up call…some sooner than later. When I heard the nails-on-a-chalkboard diagnosis come out of the doctor’s mouth, I cringed just a little, knowing that my life was about to change. But, hey, I’m a whirlwind of life-change, right? After all, it wasn’t like the ghost that suddenly shows up in your face, I’d had lots of experience with doctors, MRIs, meds, and people trying to tell me how to feel better. Instead of collapsing in my newly framed existence, I stood up for myself, to myself, to the world and said: “I’m stronger than this. I can do this. I will beat this.” That is still my mantra nearly 8 months in.
Living with MS is like telling your kid to go clean her room and having her only do it halfway or not at all. It is frustrating, makes you mad, and you want to permanently send her to her room… or prison. Unfortunately, I cannot do this with my kids or body parts that don’t want to obey the rules. I’ve taken a much more positive approach to the situation: I improvise and adapt. I stumble sometimes. I stutter my words on occasion. And, there are times when finding the word I need is nearly impossible (that one is also common with writers in general…lol). No worries, though. I’m good. I have made so much progress over the past 8 months that my doctor gets snippy because I won’t go on the meds or succumb to the “normal” things that MS patients do. I’m a warrior for myself and my health. I’m a badass, and I’m proud of it!
From here, I move along that path of recovery with my head held high. I won’t allow this stowaway to own me or my life. Being careful is not such a bad thing. Hell, I used to trip all the time before the diagnosis. This way, at least, I’m holding onto the rail and being aware of my balance all the time. That sounds like wisdom to me. I jogged the other day. That was actually fun… for about a minute. My left leg sort of rebelled against that one. (lack of coordination and weakness shows up on my left side primarily.) Guess what? I’m going to try again…and again until there is no mutiny. That day will come. Just watch and see. My best asset is my positive attitude. My second best asset is the willingness to change. My message to the world with this experience is to dig deeper into your life. Live with purpose. Listen and pay attention to your body, mind, and spirit. Get Rebellious against anything that hurts you. And be health. I am health.
No Excuses. No Blaming. No Playing the Victim.