A typical fight between a couple where one has MS

Person with MS (now referred to as ‘MS’ says to their partner who does not have MS (now referred to as N/A) ‘You seem unhappy. I’ve been noticing it for awhile. It appears to me that when I flare up, you get very stressed become unhappy.’

N/A: ‘What? Me? No. Sure I worry but I’m not unhappy. It’s work and (insert other things like kids, money, etc).

MS: ‘really? It seems to have really started after my diagnosis.’

N/A: (immediately defensive)

MS: ‘I mean, I know I gave you an out after my diagnosis (out a term many MSers are familiar with) and you didn’t take it. But that’s the thing with MS sometimes it gets worse. And I know this hasn’t been easy for you.’

N/A: ‘Exactly. I don’t want to leave. Why are you even bringing this up?!’

MS: (annoyance increasing) ‘Look, can’t we just talk about this? I’m concerned about how this affects you and in turn me.’

N/A: ‘I deal with it okay? You don’t have to worry’

MS: ‘But that’s the thing, you’re not dealing with ‘it’. You’re snappy (insert other words like ‘cranky, pissy, never home, drinking too much and etc)

N/A: ‘Am I supposed to be happy with it?!’

MS: ‘Thats the thing though. You acting so unhappy about my illness makes me feel worse about it. It makes me feel like a burden and I feel like that’s making you miserable. And how can I work on accepting my illness when you’re so miserable about it?’

End scene

Thats the thing

You know

The one at the end of the day

That keeps you up

Worrying over

Going to groups and learning about how to accept a crazy fucked up illness like MS

And not getting sucked under by the sadness and fear that comes along with it

But it is so hard to accept something so life changing

For the MSer

And for the people around said person

There’s such a strong part of me that does not want to accept having MS

I don’t want it to be a part of me, my life or my health for that matter

It seems self defeating to accept it

But it’s not

It’s the opposite

It’s like a coming to terms with MS

A mutual agreement if you will

MS says to you ‘I’m sticking around. I’m moody and temperamental and I like to take over every aspect of your life.’

You respond ‘I know you’re here to stay, and I understand the moodiness…but I can’t let you take over my entire life’

MS says ‘Why not? I have already.’

You answer ‘I’m taking parts of my life back from you. I’ll still have you in my life but you just can’t have it all. So let’s agree that you’ll stick around and I won’t fight you anymore. But you have to understand that you’re only one piece of my life. A big piece, yes. But I just can’t let you take over everything.’

MS ‘What’s the harm in that anyway?’

You say ‘Because if I let you, you’d own me and I would disappear.’

And the curtains start to close

And you and MS walk to different stage exits

The audience knows it’s not goodbye

But rather just a little breathing room

And there’s closure in that

————

The end

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MS and the world around me

I went to my first MS support group on Friday

It took me five years after being diagnosed to take the plunge

I was always hesitant to go

I was afraid of what my future might look like

It was a small group of 8 people

With different types of MS and in different stages of the disease

3 in the group had wheelchairs

A few had canes

Everyone welcomed me right away

The topic was ‘Why I’m glad I have MS’

I winced

Ugh this is gonna be brutal

We went around the table

Many described how having MS forced them to slow down

To reevaluate their life and priorities

To focus on the important and forget the small stuff

No one ignored the hard days

One described it as ‘the rabbit hole’

And seeing it open up

But not plunging into the darkness

They talked about fear, sadness,pain, love and hope

I sat quietly until my turn

And I spoke honestly

I told them I couldn’t find anything to feel glad of

Yet

And I couldn’t imagine a time when I would

But I was grateful for the resource of a group such as theirs

I explained to them how I thought I’d finally accepted having MS

Only to realize that I only was acknowledging having it

Acceptance was still a long way off

It still is

I talked about how I was going through a particularly dark time

I told them I was having difficulty reconciling my current life with what I thought my life would look like at 36 years old

I looked around

They were nodding their heads

I didn’t see the same sympathy that I see so often in my friends and families eyes

I saw real understanding

The kind that only someone who’s been there can provide

And I realized it’s been five long years since diagnosis and I’ve been doing this all wrong

I’d chosen to go at this alone

Seeing other 36 year olds living their life

Other 36 years who don’t have MS

And comparing my life to theirs

And coming up short every single time

The people in this group weren’t sad and pathetic

They were living their lives

Enjoying their lives

Maybe they adapted their lives to work around having MS

Maybe their life plans changed

But they didn’t stop living

That’s true acceptance

After I left

I felt a sense of relief

At having done something I’d put off for so long

I also felt hopeful

For the first time in a very long time

Not hopeful for a cure

Or that tomorrow I’d wake up without MS

But that one day I too would be able to finally accept that I have MS

With all that it includes and with wherever it might lead me

And I’ll be okay

I’m not there

Yet

Not even close

But I want to be…

I’m like the Tonya Harding of the non figure skating world

More specifically

I am the Tonya Harding of the sick persons world

Like Tonya, I’m not the easiest to like

Like Tonya, I don’t evoke feelings of sympathy

Like Tonya, I’ve had to work at everything I’ve ever wanted

Unlike Tonya, I know the war is with myself

No one else ever should a chance

I know that there is no outside force that can be changed which will miraculously make my own life any easier

Nor will it make me the perfect poster child for a winning MS campaign

Or the face of the next Bell Let’s Talk day

I’ve accepted that things will likely always be a little harder for me

It’s my cross to bear

I’ve learned not everyone has one

And yes they are indeed lucky for that

Would I change it if I could?

Without hesitation

Do I think that there is anything within my control that would make said things easier for me?

Not a chance

The cross I have to bear

It’s a big one

It’s heavy and solid all the way through

And I drop it often

I can’t ever lose it though

Because I know it’s mine for this lifetime

So I pick it back up

And march on with it

It never feels lighter or easier

But I get more comfortable with it

I still stumble, and I struggle

But I have learned something

That cross will always be mine

And so I bear that damn cross

That has my name so deeply carved in it

That it could only ever be mine

No doubt or question

Sometimes I think I was born with that fucking cross

It was always mine

It claimed me

Before I had a chance to even breathe

A bruise by any other name

A bruise is like a badge

You’re not just handed one

You earn your bruises just like a badge

A bruise means you showed up

It signifies that you actually ‘did’ something for a change

That bruise carries with it the same honour as a trophy raised above your head

It says ‘hey world this might not mean anything to you but to me it means everything

Your bruise is one of a collection of bruises and scars

They are proof

In the flesh

That you’re real

That your battle is real

It’s evidence that you are still here

Inhabiting this world

This universe that you’re a part of

Left it’s mark on you

And you are treasuring it

Like the beautiful reminder that it is

Watching the marks build up

With a sense of awe

At what you’ve accomplished

In this life

Stretched out in front of you

Like a winners banquet

These bruises of mine

Look like victory

Hi my name is Angela and it’s been one week since my last infusion…

It’s been up and down

Steroids really fuck with my entire system

Most of the physical side effects have dissipated

Left over is irritability

More so than usual that is

I don’t know how last time around I spent an entire month in isolation

I’m seriously going mad inside

I’ve watched shows, played around with my hair, cleaned, planted some herbs on my terrace and slept

And thought

A lot

I’ve been thinking about what’s next with work, how the kids are doing, if this treatment will work, the upcoming Paxil withdrawal, how they really do get the caramel in the caramilk bar

And the list goes on and on and on

I’m not gonna lie

The Paxil thing has been at the forefront

I have been totally obsessing over it

I’m terrified

But that’s another blog entry altogether

Right now

I’m trying to make it to two weeks post treatment

And then I will rejoin the world

If it’ll still have me of course

Which has always been debatable

At best

Like me

Temperamental

At best

On the 5th, 6th and probably 7th day, She rested

It’s a rare time when I don’t lay in bed tossing and turning thinking things over

Like why my first grade teacher said I was too quiet

Or why I have a phobia of blood

But this week has been different

I fall into these really deep sleeps where I wake up feeling like my body is being regenerated

No single thought is tossed around in my brain for an unnecessary amount of time

It’s kind of an awesome feeling

It makes me feel refreshed

I’ve had some negative side effects mostly from the steroids

And steroids?!

God damn!!

I swear the way they can make the most mundane food taste gourmet is amazing 😍

And there is NO hunger like a steroid hunger 🐷

But mostly manageable through medications

I keep trying to remind myself that it’s totally okay if all I did today was shower or sleep

Then my mind tries to tell me that it’s not normal to sleep all day

But when the hell has my mind ever been right anyway?

And when have I ever cared about things being normal?

🙌🏼✊🏼✌️🤞

‘Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could carry a rather large amount of Gratitude.’

While I can’t say for certain one way or another where the storm of powerful emotions is coming from

Is it the high dose steroids, the cocktail combo of everything else and now the drastic withdrawal?

A culmination of the last several months, much of which was unpleasant at best?

I guess it doesn’t even matter

What does matter, is that like Piglet, I’ve noticed that my heart can carry an enormous amount of gratitude

And I don’t think gratitude is meant to kept bottled up. It’s like having a present and never giving it to the intended recipient.

I want to lay out some honest gratitudes in a way that doesn’t trivialize then into mere platitudes So bear with me while I navigate these murky waters

In can be hard for people drowning to see the good, the things to be grateful for

But I’m going to try

I am grateful for:

  • My partner in crime. Through thick and thin. Sick and sicker. Depressed and anxious. I know I could live without you if I had to, but what a sad sad life it would be.
  • My mom, mother in law and sister for each taking time out of their days to spend a day at the infusion clinic. Mainly being my go getters and entertainment and in Connie’s case, my calm. You each played such an important role in this infusion week. I am forever grateful.
  • My friends, my family especially my dad who wrote a sweet note for me every day on Facebook and even called me Bella 😭
  • I am so warmed and surprised by how many people reached out through a text, a visit, a phone call, a message or a line on some social media platform. Going through any hard time is always made easier when there are people who for whatever reason show their support in whatever way they want and can.
  • I am grateful for each of my three nurses who took wonderful care of me even knowing they’d likely not see me again. They were kind, understanding and never brushed off any of my feelings or symptoms.
  • I am honoured to have spent my time with all my fellow fighters and warriors (of the MS variety or not). I wish there was a collective magic pot where we could each leave a small amount of whatever it is that makes us fight so that when one of us is running on empty, they can dip into the reserves. So much of our fight is done behind closed doors, in beds and in darkened rooms, and I hope that more of us can find the courage to join this crazy fight together.
  • Finally I am sooo happy to have a family doctor who could send a script to my pharmacy for some good sleeping pills, and you dear readers should be happy too. Because no sleep and high dose steroid withdrawals makes for an extra less than amiable Angela.

And who in their right mind would want that?

🙌🏼✌️✊🏼🤞