Most invitations sound great when they come, but for many with MS, it’s simply impossible to predict the way one might feel the day of the event. Symptoms can change, flare-ups can occur, and/or exhausting fatigue might set in. The desire to go may still strongly be there, but the physical strength and wellbeing are not. A response of “maybe I’ll be there” is often necessary for those living with MS, and sometimes, it’s the Continue reading
By Susan Russo
Every year on January 1st, the first thought to pop into my head is “OK, it’s a new beginning, what do I want to do going forward?”
And every January 1st, I say “Well, absolutely nothing comes to mind.” Except coffee. I need coffee. And eggs and some bacon. So I climb out of bed and meander my way into the kitchen, all the while telling my son “Happy New Year Chris! We made it through another Holiday Season, still intact and none worse for wear.” Still not married, still alone, and still no grand babies for me to raise. Chris just grunts in unison, rolls back over in his bed and drifts back into his safe place. What that is, I don’t dare ask. All I hear is a muffled, low grade growl of “just stop it mom, pleeeeeeaaase!”
As I take my cozy seat at the breakfast table with my favorite blanket, (and, yes, it does get cold enough in winter to use a blanket in Houston) I begin to reminisce on the past few years. “How is my MS doing?” I ask. It answers back with a flush of burning, tingling, a bit of numbness, and a side order of vertigo, reminding me, “Hey girl, I’m still here. Did you forget about me?” And I’m like, “geez, sorry I asked.”
No. I have not forgotten. It’s just in the midst of all my goal setting, you simply slipped my mind.
And that’s just it. The thing about setting goals for the new year…it really is so important. Resolutions allow me to forget about multiple sclerosis, even for just a moment. Thinking of my dreams and aspirations brings me to a happy place. And by the time I finished my toast with jelly, I have a list of a thousand things I want to accomplish. We all know that feeling of elation. Yes, I can learn to swim so my MS will stop burning me, as I splash around in the pool like a halibut. Yes, I will become a world famous artist, move to the Fiji Islands, employ a cabana boy, drink ice tea, and paint until my heart’s content. And eat tons of potato chips. I love potato chips. And maybe have a glass of champagne. Just because I can.
Then, Boom! Reality comes knocking on the door. “You can’t ignore me forever! Let me in or else!” I sigh and take a gulp of my coffee, politely expressing to my reality to “go away, I still have bacon to eat.”
The thing about reality…it’s real and it’s relentless, and it never goes away. So, begrudgingly, I focus. One step at a time. One day at a time. One goal at a time.
- I will take my Avonex on time each week. (I was tired of my MS injections, so I skipped a few. Don’t tell my doctor.)
- I will swim 2 to 3 times a week.
- I will eat healthy foods. (Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.)
- I won’t pester my son about marriage and babies and wanting a corgi puppy.
- I will create more art because I am totally talented and people like my work.
- I will volunteer at the local police department because I have respect for officers of the law. (Actually, I adore a man in uniform, just sayin…)
- And, I will find a cure for MS! It’s gonna happen people!
My point is this. It’s imperative to set goals, especially when we are in a battle with MS or other dreadful diseases. Unfortunately, they are a part of our lives. We cannot ignore them. So, include them in your dreams and aspirations. Keep it simple. Don’t set goals you know in your heart you won’t keep. Be kind to yourself. Reward yourself. Go see that movie that you’ve been wanting to see.
Remember this. No matter how crazy the world gets, if you have just one goal that gives you a sense of accomplishment, set it and follow through. When you succeed, pat yourself on the back. Smile. You did it. Then set another. And another. Pretty soon, you will find that resolutions can be made and effortlessly (well, you may have to exert some effort) accomplished, not just on the very first day of a new year, but anytime you wish.
The choice is yours. And know this, if you falter with your attempts to better yourself and the world around you, do not dismay. Time keeps coming. Days keep flying by. And January 1st will still be the 1st day of the new year. Always.
Time for resolutions and dreams, with an entree of bacon, eggs, coffee, and more bacon. And perhaps a little grand baby to cuddle.
Heck, I’d settle for the corgi puppy! I’ll name her Isabella.
There is a lot about MS that is difficult for “healthy” people to understand, and one of the most frustrating things is that it can be really difficult to make plans in advance. You just never know how you are going to feel the following day, or even the following hour. One of the amazing contributors at MultipleSclerosis.net, Matt Allen G, wrote a wonderful article about his frustrations with being unable to make plans with friends in advance, and then some people not understanding why those plans may have to change at the last minute. Matt’s words really resonated with our community, and so many other people shared their thoughts and experiences with us. Here’s what our community had to say:
It’s emotionally draining
- My head tells me I can do it but my body won’t let me. For me this is the worst. I look around during my house and there is such that needs done but I just can’t. Depressing.
- I get so sad and discouraged when I see people posting pictures of everywhere they go and the fun they have…and I do well to get to the store once in a while.
- This is one of the hardest parts of staying in the family dynamic.
MS Doesn’t Care
- MS doesn’t care if your children need you to drive them here, there, and everywhere. MS doesn’t care if you got all dressed up and now you need a nap. I have gotten all dressed for church and then as my husband is backing up the van I ask him to stop as I need to go back in the house. Then I take a nap, fully dressed, too tired to undress.
- I have an international trip coming up, and the anxiety alone is killing me, but I figure you only live once. If I let this disease deter me from making plans and living my life as best I can while I still can I’ll always regret it. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. You never know when there’ll be a “next time”.
- I never know when I am going to feel better; 10 minutes good, then it’s downhill.
- I always get trip insurance and have used it. It takes the pressure off. Make sure it covers pre- existing conditions as most don’t. I think it is Travel Guard. You have to purchase it within 2 weeks of booking a flight or trip. Really truly despise this part of living with the monster.
- My experience has been to make plans with the people who understand that I will do what I can. I go, do what I can and find happiness that I did what I could and had an experience that I will remember.
- I stopped making plans because I never know how I’ll feel. One day at a time.
- Fatigue and meltdowns make it so difficult to do things around the house. I’ve learned to do things as I can because pushing to finish anything isn’t possible for me.
No one understands
- This sums up my life perfectly. I HATE the unpredictability of this disease. Especially when “I look so good!” but my body’s numb. Or I can’t lift my leg. People just don’t understand what its like. No matter how much they try to empathize they’ll NEVER understand it. Like the phrase goes, “no one Gets MS Until they GET it”.
- This is something I wish all my family and friends understood.
- No one understands what MS is doing to you… You have to listen to your body. You will lose people because they just don’t understand… Keep positive and Never ever give up!!
- I wish my grown children would understand this.
I won’t let MS run my life
- It never stops me. I’m going to Thailand, jumped out of a plane, to work I drive a modified car, and I play wheelchair basketball for my local team.
- One day at a time is all you can do.
- It’s not about having a good day. It’s about having a good minute!
What about you? Do you struggle with planning? Do you find that friends and family don’t understand?