I found a few smiles in a recent ABC article about Multiple Sclerosis.
The more I think about it, the more thankful I am to have Multiple Sclerosis. My point of view has changed. My insight into several issues has deepened. My ability to find silver linings has increased. In what some might find an odd statement, I appreciate life more than before.
The first myth the article mentions about MS is that it is a death sentence. But the way the response was worded touched me. “MS is a life sentence”. Yep, there is no cure, I’ll have this for the rest of my life.
Another important one I wish everyone would get is “Everyone’s MS follows the same path”. I’ve known people who got much worse, and believe it or not, a few that are doing better. I’ve known people for whom it has been a violent roller coaster, and many, like myself, for whom it is an “advent calendar”, every day is a surprise.
That falls with the next one, “MS is curable” (See myth #1). No it is not. “Treatable” is a word that must be approached carefully. There are drugs, and they work differently with each person (see myth #2). I tried each of the new drugs as they came out (when I was diagnosed there were NO treatments). They worked to varying degrees, but when weighed against the side effects none of them had an overall positive effect. Some people have had wonderful results, just not me.
Another myth was “You’ll need a wheelchair”. Regardless of your health, next time you go to the zoo, please rent a wheelchair. Tell me how much you enjoy the visit, and the evening afterward. There is nothing wrong with using an appliance to make your life easier, and it just might break down your prejudices. I resisted using a cane until my neurologist said “it will make you look cool”. I thought about it differently, and while I may not be “cool”, I’m not as tired or in pain when I use it, I get a seat on the bus, I have a tool to catch elevator doors with, I get preferential boarding on aircraft and occasionally get moved to the front of the line in security, and I can trip wankers who get in my way (and no one says a word).
You may hear people say “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. In fact, the scripture they’re referring to is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” From this I interpret that God will not give you anything you can’t handle with his help. There are countless examples of people who couldn’t handle the challenges they were faced with.
It is my faith in God that makes my life bearable. When Emma was awaiting surgery, I fell and broke my arm on her birthday. I was able to be there for her twenty four seven in the days leading up to surgery and her recovery. It was the best thing that could have happened (other than her surviving cancer).
Another helpful part of seeing silver linings is knowing that this life sentence ends when my heart stops beating, but my life goes on through eternity, not only in the company of the creator, but free from the troubles of this life.