A Multiple Sclerosis Night Before the Holidays

By Penelope Conway

’Twas the night before the holidays, when all through my body,
Not a nerve was behaving, making me move rather shoddy.
My daily activities were chosen with care,
In hopes that each one could be done from a chair.

Each word that I spoke seemed to come out all wrong,
So much to be finished, I had to stay strong.
And John in the kitchen, and Missy making frappe,
Everyone busy working, no time for a nap.

When somewhere outside there arose such a clatter,
I peeked through the window, to see what was the matter.
I tried to move fast, to get to the door,
But I didn’t quite make it, and wound up on the floor.

As I lay on the rug, making sure nothing broke
Through tears I could see it, even gave it a poke.
Yes, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the cane that I lost, earlier this year.

Then the front door cracked open, and before me he stood,
I immediately knew help had arrived which was good.
And more rapid than eagles, his phrases they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name.

“Now hang on, now slow down, now take more life pauses,
With stressful, and chaos, and tearful day causes.
To the end of the checklist, to the end of the hall,
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

And then I could see, as I wiped away tears,
Why, his words and his wisdom had settled my fears.
As I sat on the floor, too weak to even move
He knelt down beside me, and said I have nothing to prove.

He looked a bit weary, as a glance we exchanged,
And he said that my focus is what needs to be changed.
What’s important is family and those who are nearby.
(On that last one he actually said with a twinkly eye.)

Your weakness…it’s real. Your limits…real too.
MS has this way of making even brilliant days blue.
He smiled as he spoke, and I knew he was right.
No more pity party moments or MS fist fights.

He spoke not a word more as he helped me to stand.
I found myself smiling as I reached for his hand.
I sat on the couch as he gave me a nod,
He helped me to see that my thinking was flawed.

Then he sprang to his sleigh, and to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, “You’re doing great, don’t forget,
To pause more and smile, you have nothing to fret.”


*Penelope Conway was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November 2011. She is the author and founder of Positive Living with MS (positivelivingwithms.com) where she uses humor and her own life experiences with MS to help others navigate this unpredictable journey. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day.

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About MSAA

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.


  • Charles Lee says:

    “peeked through the window” not peaked. Great poem just the same.

  • sharon says:

    Very creative and comforting. A heartfelt thank you. It did help me when my neurologist who is a Harvard , Stanford brainiac comfirmed that even cold weather like heat and stress as very hard on our MS bodies. So here is to some days ahead that are less of a challenge…

  • Tiffany says:

    AWESOME!!! Loved the poem and have a Merry Christmas Penelope :):):)

  • Nancy says:

    I love it! Merry Christmas!

  • Judy says:

    Thank you for this poem, Penelope!!! I love it!! Wishing you and everyone reading this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! May things be better for us in 2018!! Be well.

  • Leah says:

    What a lovely, heartfelt poem that was so touching to read. My tears still flow as I tap on my IPad. Wishing you a cozy and happy Xmas Penelope!

  • Phyllis says:

    What a wonderful rendition! Just what I needed today.
    Merry Christmas!

  • Carla L Broadbent Rogers says:

    Merry Christmas to all and to a better 2018. Love the poem. Be well.

  • Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, a great story line. To all of you here and afar have a good Christmas and a happy New year. I hope it brings you hope and good rest times.

  • Roland Clarke says:

    A fun and very true take on a classic. Enjoy the season and find that fighting spirit. All the best for 2018.

  • Vicki says:

    Love your poem and all of your posts. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2018.

  • indulge says:

    A lovely poem Penelope and just so appropriate for most of us. Have a very Happy Christmas and God bless.

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