In about a week and a half, Matt and I will head down to New York for my first appointment with an MS specialist. I think it will help to have two of us there thinking clearly and asking questions. Given that the sum total of information I’ve received about MS from a medical professional could fill a teaspoon at this point, the upcoming appointment is great news.
On the other hand, it’s scaring the heck out of me. What if they tell me that my brain has more spots than they’ve ever seen? What if they tell me to go ahead and start pricing walkers? What if they tell me there’s a tumor hiding somewhere in my poor brain behind the spots?
My therapist (who I love and would carry around with me in my pocket if only she would fit) taught me years ago to do this: imagine the best and worst things that could happen and then accept that in all likelihood, neither of them will. Best: “My goodness, Mrs. Jennings, this has all been a terrible mistake!” Worst: see above. Likely outcome: something in between.
But even if it isn’t the worst case scenario, I have a feeling that this and the other appointments I’ve scheduled will be filled with difficult, reality-facing, serious conversations. This is how I’m preparing myself.
Bodies can be, at various times, allies and troublemakers. I’ve been strong: I’ve run a marathon, I’ve swum a mile. I’ve been weak: immobilized by food poisoning, too sleep-deprived to form complete sentences. (Pregnancy and childbirth seem like they deserve their own category. Like a combination of marathon-running and sleep-deprivation.)
But during all of these times, I’ve felt just the same on the inside. I always just feel like regular me. I’m interested in the same things, I love the same books, I laugh at the same jokes (a piece of string walked into a bar…). What is fundamentally me is unchanged by what my body is doing.
I’m reminding myself of this because, chances are, there will be some physical changes coming. I always want to be aware that those changes (or even just the threat of those changes) aren’t essential to who I am. Fundamentally, I’ll still be regular me.