Having MS, not to be cliché, I try to keep things positive. I try to laugh more than I cry. Like when recently, over the course of one week, I had to see a pulmonologist, gynecologist, naturopath, and radiologist, and then checked into the emergency room because of horrible chest pains (I even saw the kids’ pediatrician that week!). Or when I drop my daughter’s juice on the floor three times in a row. Those are the times when, if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry. But how can I break down in front of my sweet baby girl?
“Fingers crossed,” my neuro texted me back when I told him the pulmonologist thought I just had some swelling along my chest cavity, not MS Hug. Easy for him to say when he hasn’t had trouble breathing for six weeks. Right after that I suffered a miscarriage that required a D&C — the cherry on the top of a shit-show month. Okay, so back to my point: staying positive with MS.
Being diagnosed with MS has taught me to be more compassionate. I am more patient with others. I don’t lean on the horn the instant the red light turns green. I remember that other people have not-so-great stuff going on in their lives, too. My soon to be five-year-old son is learning as well.
While I haven’t shared with him all the details of my chronic pain, he definitely knows when mommy isn’t feeling her best. Some days it’s difficult to get the kids in and out of the car, get them dressed (those damn tiny buttons!), or tie their shoes. My son and I call these times when my hands don’t work so well the wiggles and giggles. My hands wiggle and we both giggle.
On one particularly trying day, my son sensed that something was up. I had a large bag on the front seat of my car, and from the back seat I heard his small but serious voice pipe up, “Momma, you know what? God gave me these strong muscles and I am going to help you take that big bag into the house.” Needless to say, I sobbed the whole way home and gave him the biggest momma bear hug when we got there. He, too, is learning compassion and I am so proud.
Some days I feel like complete ass, but aside from the kids’ toothpaste running down my shirt, I look pretty darn good. It’s my dirty secret that sometimes tears run steadily down my cheeks while the lights are off at my spin class. And some nights the pain is so bad I wish I could go back to the time when it was acceptable to have my mom come sleep in my bed to tell me everything will be alright. And no one notices when I’m circling the aisles of Whole Foods like a lost dog because I’m having an MS brain fart and can’t remember what I’m looking for. But I’m not the only one who has shitty days. I am patient with others because I know firsthand that you can’t always see what someone is going through.learning compassion, MS Hug, staying positive when you have MS, talking to your kids about MS, teaching your kids compassion