Call me Polyanna, but I can honestly say I’ve been “blessed with MS”. I’m not the type who is normally prone to empty optimism. On the other hand, looking for the good side of anything is an appropriate and healthy exercise. It’s good psychology and it’s biblical. (The latter preceded the former.)
MS is evil. There’s no question about it. It destroys lives with a caprice that is chilling, like a serial killer. There is no defense. You can’t do anything to avoid it. Once it arrives, you’re at its mercy. It can’t be stopped and no one can predict its progress. Anyone who says differently, in the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, is selling something.
All that is a given. Potential responses are few:
- Denial – That’s useless.
- “Why me?” – The Nancy Kerrigan approach is equally futile, as well as slightly vain.
- Fight, fight with all your might – To some extent beyond mere common sense measures, this approach accomplishes little except to bring on more stress, which tends to (in MS-speak) exacerbate the condition.
- Acknowledge the bad and appreciate the good.
There’s that rose-colored glasses thing again. I’m a firm believer that there is something to be grateful for in everything. Thus, St. Paul’s exhortation to “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Note that it’s “in” all circumstances, not “for” them all. I don’t have to be thankful for having MS, but I must be thankful in the circumstance in which I’ve been placed.
For your consideration, here are some things to be grateful for in MS:
- Good parking spaces
- Focus. I can’t do the things I can’t do, so I get to concentrate all the more on those I can for now.
- When I walk down the street, people look at me. I know they’re wondering whether I’m drunk, but using my imagination I can pretend they’re checking me out – the kids think I’m cool, the women think I’m a stud, and the men are just plain impressed. (Maybe I am drunk.)
- There’s a compassion that comes from suffering that cannot be attained by any other means.
- Getting a sneak peek at old age. Some day you too will struggle to get around and wonder whether you’ll make it to the bathroom on time.
- Going through (some) airports is a breeze when you have a cane.
- I haven’t done it yet, but I’m told that there’s no other way to visit a Disney park but with some kind of assistive device. Lines are for losers.
- You get a glimpse of human nature that is beyond the sight of most people.
- I’m part of Mitt’s 47%.
- Cool new vocab words, like “exacerbate”, “subcutaneous”, and “myelin”.
So there you have it, a brief list of the things to be thankful for when diagnosed with MS. There are others and perhaps I’ll expound on more some day. For now, I’m going back to bed.
This is inspired by a friend who used to have a plaque that said “Blessed with MS” on her scooter. Also, the image above was stolen from a book of the same name. I haven’t read the book so I can’t speak to its value. I like the sentiment, though.