‘Weeds Are Flowers Too, Once You Get To Know Them.’ A.A. Milne

There are literally billions of people on this earth

What does it matter if there is one less?

He wondered to himself

As he left the office, late one rainy night

A car raced by him, splashing him

Making him shiver now that he was drenched in muddy rain water

He thought a split second too late

How he could have easily jumped in front of that asshole’s car

Ruining that fucker’s night

And effectively ending his own

Two birds

One stone

In this case,

Two strangers and one pretentious oversized car

He rolled his eyes

Not for the first time that day

What was it with him lately?

He was becoming the grumpiest 28 year old man that ever existed

He remembered what Catherine had said to him before she ended things with him two weeks ago

‘You’re miserable. Miserable with life, with me and with yourself.’

He rolled his eyes again

Shit

He had to stop doing that

It’s become too reflexive

She was right though

He was miserable

He felt so…dissatisfied with everything

His job, his friends and most definitely with her

He just been going through the motions with her

Really, he was surprised she hasn’t broken up with him months before

But he knew why she had stayed

They looked good together

On paper and on the outside looking in

They looked like the it couple

She with her long red hair and perfectly fake smile

And him with his dark good looks and shadowed eyes

She had loved how her girlfriends envied their relationship

She got off on the times they had told her how jealous they were that she had found ‘someone like him’

As if he was a real catch

This time he stopped himself from rolling his eyes

At first he didn’t mind the way she would play up their relationship in front of others

Hell, it was easy to just smile and keep his hand on her waist

But eventually

Even standing beside her

Grew exhausting

And he couldn’t wait until he dropped her off at home

Making excuses why he couldn’t stay the night

She’d started dropping hints that she was unhappy

Complaining that he never took her anywhere

Or that he acted too indifferent around her friends

Through it all

He couldn’t bring himself to bother to care even the slightest

So when she’d told him she was through with him being miserable

He cut the call, tossed his cell and slept like a baby that night

He wasn’t miserable per say

And yet here he was

Thinking of jumping in front of some asshole’s car

Out of equal parts spite and desperation

He went home that night and drank too much whiskey and passed out in front of the television

He woke up with a brutal hangover that would surely stick with him all day

After showering and forcing down a few Tylenol

He dressed and headed to the subway

Hoping it would be a quiet morning and that when he made it to work

He could just hide out in his office

The subway platform was packed and he felt that same old irritability starting to infiltrate every part of his whiskey soaked brain

The alcohol from last night hadn’t done much to put a damper on his chronically bad mood

He rolled his eyes

Fuck

That hurt

The subway sped into the station

Everyone surged forward

Social etiquette failed to exist in these self serving moments

He hung back

Not caring if he made it onto this train

Maybe he could wait for the next train

Maybe he’d jump in front of it

But there was room

So he moved forward and walked and without paying much attention

He sat in the first available seat and let his head fall back

A few stops later

He felt someone’s eyes on him

He could tell without even opening his own

He took a deep breath, opened his eyes and looked up

And locked eyes with a woman standing directly front of him

He felt a jolt through his entire body

Effectively waking him up

How had he missed her?

While she stared at him

He looked her over

Seeing her black clothing in stark contrast to her pale skin

Her ripped up jeans that led to old school sneakers that looked like they were well worn

He made his way back up and this time the shock of her electric blue hair caught his attention

It was so bright and stood out in the sea of conformity around them

He looked back at her face

And saw that she was looking at him with a strange expression on her face

He should have looked away

It was the polite thing to do

But then a whisper of a tattoo design peaked out on her outstretched arm that held the pole in front of her

Her jacket having ridden up her arm

He couldn’t tell what it was from the little he saw

But could tell it wrapped around her wrist and extended up into her jacket sleeve

He looked back at her

Her face filled with concern

He looked away from her and down at his phone in his hands

What was that look for?

Trying to focus on the note he was trying to type out on his phone

Struggling to find words that would explain everything without blaming anyone

He wouldn’t look up

He must have misread the expression on her face

He would not look up

Most people looked at him with intrigue

He looked up

And she was looking down at him

She still had that concerned look on her face

As if she knew something

Her bright eyes looked directly into his eyes

Searching for something

She shifted her eyes but looked back quickly

Imploringly

She opened her mouth to speak

And in a voice as captivating as her blue blue hair

She said

‘It’s gonna get better you know. One day, it won’t feel like this.’

What the fuck?

He struggled to find something to say

‘You’re gonna be okay’

She whispered

What was she talking about?

As they entered a tunnel, the lights cut out

It was pitch black

He started breathing shallowly

He felt pressure on his hand

Then a graze of his cheek

It felt cool like a salve on his overheated skin

He knew it was her

He could feel the intensity of her words touching him

Seeping inside his skin

Past the bone and muscle

And into his heart

Which started beating rapidly

It was like it was being kick started after a long period of inactivity

The lights came on suddenly

The subway ground to a halt

The doors opened

Beeping loudly

And she was gone

He stared down at his phone

The note application still open

All the words he’d written

Gone

All the apologies

Erased

All the explanations

Deleted

All that was left were 6 little words

That he hadn’t typed

I made it. So will you.

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‘In The Depth of Winter, I Learned That There Was In Me An Invincible Summer’ Albert Camus

You know how every winter when it gets below zero

You think to yourself

‘This is the problem with Canadian winters, it just drops and you don’t have time to get accustomed to the cold temperatures.’

Well

That’s kinda like having MS

In one day

In one minute

In one nanosecond

You go from being just another random person

To be a person with Multiple Sclerosis

Maybe you lose functioning of your right hand

Or your lower half goes numb

Or you’re like me

And one day there’s a blurred spot in your vision

That no amount of lens cleaning

Will get rid of

The fucked up part

Is that with relapse remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Every relapse is kinda like reliving that first one all over again

Yeah sure you have your symptoms

But you’ve grown used to them

You’ve figured out a routine

A method of getting shit done

And then bang

Boom

Pow

Out of nowhere

Your leg stops working and you fall

Or your speech gets slurred and you sound intoxicated

Or you’re like me and you can’t stand to have your eyes open for another fucking second

So yeah

MS is kinda like that

And every time I think I’ve gotten the right equipment

And my coat is warm enough

And my snow tires are on

Then it changes in a flash

And now I’m standing outside in a T-shirt and it’s minus 30 Celsius weather

And I don’t remember a time when I ever felt warm enough

And I can’t remember what the sun’s gaze feels like directly on my face

And I certainly can’t recall what I was like before I turned into ice and shattered into a million pieces

Or who I was before MS blew into my life like a fucking snowstorm on steroids

…..

‘In 3 Words I Can Sum Up Everything I’ve Learned About Life: It Goes On.’ R. Frost

Multiple Sclerosis

I didn’t even know what it was until after I was diagnosed

I had heard about it

Montell Jordan

How sad

And all that

But I had no clue what it actually was

It’s amazing what you can learn when you have no choice

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system

The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord

An autoimmune disease is when your immune system mistakenly attacks itself

There is no definitive answer on why someone’s immune system would turn on itself

Nor is there a definitive answer as to what causes MS

There is obviously speculation to both

Some people speculate that the environment or genetics could be the cause

MS attacks myelin

Myelin is the protective coating of nerves which causes inflammation and can be damaged

Those damaged areas are lesions on the brain or spinal cord

Myelin is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses

Without myelin doing it’s job

Communication is damaged between nerve cells

Therefore the body doesn’t get instructions to perform necessary functions like walking or seeing

It sounds so complicated and scientific on paper

But all it really means

Is that your body stops working in the ways it’s supposed to

It’s stops listening to basic control functions that it once took for granted and did without thought

MS triggers a state of uncertainty

In being diagnosed

You have an answer as to what is happening

But you have no clue as to why it is happening

Nor do you have any idea as to what to expect later today, tomorrow or in the far off future

You hear stories and see campaigns which declare Canada as having one of the highest rates of MS in the world

But you have no knowledge as to why that it is

You are constantly told that the brightest and most successful people are looking for cures, treatments and answers

But it has no bearing on your daily life

What you do learn very quickly

And understand with absolute certainty

Is that your life will never be the same again

Your life goes from reading and working and going out and travelling

To daily injections, sharp eye pain, bone weary fatigue and a total lack of outside understanding

A lifetime of not knowing

In the blink of an eye

Angela, I’m sorry…you have MS

And the words that were already printed in the book of your life

Disappear and all that’s left are three little words

Life

Goes

On

And I can’t think of another sentence that conjures up feelings of hope and complete terror

‘There Was A Time In My Life When I Thought I had Everything…Now I Struggle For Peace.’ Richard Pryor

This morning I read about Richard Pryor and having Multiple Sclerosis

Now I’m pissed off at myself

Because I allowed it to fuck with my head

All day

I kept seeing Richard Pryor towards the end of his life

In a wheelchair

His head sort of lolled forward

Frail and sickly

As if that image wasn’t sad enough

The word ‘invalid’ is stamped onto the backs of my eyelids

That’s how his widow referred to him in an interview after his death

When he became an invalid’

Something like that

That word taunted me all day

Haunted me

Invalid

It’s the opposite of valid

Which means

An idea or thought that is sensible

Or

Something that is important or serious enough that it is worth saying or doing

And that’s what got to me

Because at the end of his ‘battle’ with MS

He was reduced to a word

Irregardless of his willingness to fight and stay positive and be strong and every other trivial motivational one liner people throw at us

He was reduced to a word that literally meant he wasn’t important

That his life didn’t matter

And quite honestly

I cannot think of anything more heartbreaking

Than to be thought of

As nothing more than just inconsequential

‘Time And Health Are Two Precious Assets That We Don’t Recognize And Appreciate Until They Have Been Depleted.’ Dennis Waitley

And I thought to myself

Not for the first time

Just how much

Health really is wasted on the healthy

Since they don’t have a fucking clue

How lucky they are

I wish I could say that I’m not jealous

I’m happy for them

But those would be nothing but lies wrapped in nice sentiments

The truth is

I’m jealous of every person whose body isn’t attacking itself

I’m bitter towards every person who doesn’t know the fear of not knowing if tomorrow they’ll wake up paralyzed or blind

I’m resentful of everyone who doesn’t appreciate their healthy mind and bodies

I fall asleep sometimes

With the unfairness of it all sitting like a weight on my chest

Making my breathing laboured and coming out more like puffs of fire

I wake up some mornings and before I open my eyes

I wonder if this is the day I won’t be able to see anything

I kick myself for not appreciating the last things I saw before going to bed

For not staying awake longer

Taking in as much as my eyes would let me

I can’t pretend there aren’t moments where these thoughts don’t consume me

Sometimes the moments are fleeting

But I catch myself before I get swept away

And sometimes it’s too damn late for me to realize a moment has stretched into a day

And a day into a week

And the only way I’ve noticed how consumed I’ve become

Is by looking at a calendar

And not being able to remember anything distinct about all of the days gone by

But I know they must have passed because I’ve drawn a big red X on them

Like I’m marking them off

Counting them down

Checking them off

For what?

I’m still not sure

Maybe just to prove I was here

‘I Dream My Painting And Then I Paint My Dream.’ Van Gogh

So I did something today

That I hadn’t been able to previously accomplish

I finished an audiobook

No big deal there

That happens very frequently

I should clarify

I finished an audiobook where the main male character has Multiple Sclerosis

I know it might not seem monumental to you

There was no forewarning about his diagnosis in the description of the book

Because in all likelihood

I wouldn’t have given it a listen

I hate to admit that in the past I’d been unable to continue to listen when I got to the point in the story where a character was revealed to have MS

In that instance

I stopped cold turkey

Right then and there

This time around

I had two hours left in an eight hour book

It wouldn’t have been strange for me to not finish listening

There have been many times

Where the romance audiobook character said the word ‘gosh’ too many times

And with only minutes left

I just couldn’t do it and ended that listen lightening fast

Anyway this time

I got to the part where it is revealed the character has MS

I paused the audiobook for a minute

Maybe more

I called Joey to come into the room

Explained the situation

Made him listen to the line

And then

I did something unlike myself

I kept listening

There may have been some tears

The female characters

Not my own

Well

A little my own

But whatever

More importantly

The story kept going

It didn’t end there

With him in a hospital

Talking medical shit with a doctor

The story continued for two hours

Two hours where I continued to listen

I could have stopped

Deleted it

Found something else

And yet I listened to the whole story

Sometimes with tears

Sometimes not

I kept going

I listened until the very last second

I listened until the credits rolled and the audio went silent

And honestly

I can’t think of anything more fucking poignant

‘Every Day Is Exactly The Same.’ NIN

Sarah laid in bed for what felt like the hundredth day

She hadn’t been feeling well

And there wasn’t anyone around to distract her

Oh sure

Some days friends or family would call her or text her

But it was mostly out of obligation

Anyway, she didn’t want to be a bother

So she kept to herself most of the time

Although today she wondered

If it were more to protect them or herself

Sarah tried to distract herself with game apps on her phone

Matching colours and finding candy

Eventually she grew bored of them

She fell back on the bed and stared up at the white ceiling

It was strikingly white and in dark contrast to her blackout drapes covering her windows

There was a thin crack in the middle of the ceiling

How had she never noticed that before?

The more she stared at the crack

The longer it seemed to get

The longer it got

The more she wondered what would happen if the ceiling cracked wide open and collapsed on her

She laughed out loud

Picturing first responders rushing to the scene

And finding her still in her Hello Kitty pyjamas at 3 in the afternoon

What would they think about her?

Would they wonder why a 45 year old woman was home in the middle of the afternoon

In bed and wearing pyjamas of a cartoon cat

Staring up at the ceiling

With her tightly drawn blackout drapes to protect her from the outside

Or the outside from her

But her ceiling wide open

With the sun and the sky and everything else staring her down

Would they too see the irony in any of it?

With that in mind

Sarah finally got out of bed and walked to the window

And opened her blackout drapes wide

If there was going to be a great collapsing ceiling tragedy

She didn’t want it to include an ironic anecdote that the paramedics told their friends

Absolutely not

She thought resolutely

For this

She would risk inviting the outside world in

Even if it meant there was now only a thin fragile glass barrier between her and the outside world

She shuddered and went back to bed

And stared up at the crack in her ceiling