By Penelope Conway
No one likes to think about where multiple sclerosis may lead…not even me. But I can tell you from my own experience, ignoring the possibilities of progression is to live in denial and will only set you up for defeat. Trust me, I lived there my first year after diagnosis.
I chose to deny what was happening in my life because I was afraid of the unknown. I’d heard horror stories of people who had MS and figured I would be giving in to the disease if I gave it room in my thoughts. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Once I shifted my thinking from denial to acceptance, life actually got better.
Did it make MS go away? Absolutely not. Did I still have bad days, struggles and pain? Yes!
But in the process I discovered that MS was no longer the one in control. I took the reins to my life back and actually began enjoying each new day I had even when those days were filled of pain, struggles and challenges.
I also found myself planning ahead in preparation for the changes that may happen. Somehow, somewhere along the way we have been led to believe that planning ahead like that is a bad thing. But in actuality, it helps.
It’s important to think about things like what you would do if you needed an assistive device to help you walk or a wheelchair to get around in. How you would make it to appointments or run errands if you were unable to drive yourself around town. Ways your home could be modified to give you a more comfortable life free of obstacles and potential tripping hazards.
Planning like that will prepare you for the shifts that could happen…not in a woe-is-me, I’m-living-in-fear kind of way but in an I-got-this, I’ll-make-it-through way.
Thinking about the possibilities of what you may need to make life better for you in the future is necessary, but it’s even more important to live in the moment. Smile, laugh, dance, run, sing, live today. Don’t waste your time worrying about a tomorrow that isn’t here yet. Plan for it, be prepared for the shifts when they come, but don’t live there.
*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.