Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.
Two years ago today, I was diagnosed with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis. It was one of the worst days of my life. I thought that having MS would be a driver and shaper of my life for all my years to come. I expected it to be on my mind at all times, because how could it not? I thought that I would write a blog post on this day every year to mark the passage of time and document the insidious creep of a rotten disease.
Thank god I wasn’t right (at least so far). I’ve been fortunate, and my symptoms today aren’t so different than they were two years ago. I feel well! It turns out that MS is not driving or shaping my life. Every day I know I have it, and every day I’m aware of its impact on my body. But that awareness has dwindled from a deafening roar to a low hum. I spend a few minutes every day thinking about it, but on most days I don’t give it any more time than those few minutes.
I know how lucky I am to be able to shove this to the side. Two years ago, a doctor told me in no uncertain terms that I could expect to be disabled in the next five to seven years. Those are words you can never un-hear. So the few minutes that I spend acknowledging MS are minutes that I also spend thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have to think about it any more than that.
Ironically, the biggest impact that MS has had on my life is probably in the way I handle things that are completely unrelated to it. Since my diagnosis, there’ve been a few pretty significant bumps in my road: I lost my job and had to find another one, we’ve had setbacks on the house-building front, my sweet mom is facing some challenges that of course also impact my family. In every case, I’ve found myself ready to see the best in pretty grim situations. I’m pretty good at it! Much better than I was two years ago.
It’s not that I’m a Pollyanna who sees only the bright side. Believe me, I see them both. The good and the bad are with me all the time, as is the possibility of worse. And for at least a few minutes every day, all are in the forefront of my mind. I think that’s what keeps me pointed in the right direction with regard to MS and anything else that comes my way. I see the shadow, but every day I choose to turn towards the sun.