MS and self

self2MS is a funny beast (funny strange, not funny ha-ha).  It affects a lot of things directly: walking, memory, balance, strength, emotions, and much more.

Then it has secondary effects.  These are not symptoms of the disease, but problems caused by those symptoms.  A good example is that a change in gait can cause physical problems with knees and hips.  Poor balance results in falls.  Poor bladder function leads to UTI’s, urinary tract infections.

Then there are secondary benefits.  I’ve discussed some of those in a previous post, not all in complete seriousness.

An even further abstracted issue can manifest itself as either a problem or blessing.  That’s an MS patient’s relationship with himself.  (Forgive the sexist pronoun usage; it’s just a matter of practicality, not an inference of value.  It also makes it more personal since I am, after all, a Guy.)  When living with MS – and probably any other serious illness – we tend to become either more selfish or more selfless.

Being sick, there is tremendous temptation to make it all about me.  I think about dealing with and treating my condition.  I want others to understand, so I tell them about it, i.e. talk about myself more.  I need accommodation so I seek people and situations to bend to my needs.

None of this is bad in moderation.  Chronically ill people need accommodation, compassion, care, and treatment. The problem is that such a self-centered attitude, if allowed to run rampant and become a permanent character trait, is not only emotionally unhealthy, it can – from my personal experience – make matters worse physically.  Self-obsession, if I may be more blunt, makes people unhappy.  (There’s a whole ‘nother post coming on that topic.)  As I’ve said at other times, this is not only scientific truth, it was described as such in scripture ages ago.

Somehow, though, others manage to turn that situation on its head.  Instead of giving in to selfishness, their trials help them develop selflessness.  You might have met these people.  They have no interest in talking about themselves or their conditions; they’re interested in you.  They deal with their condition through service to others.

Just recently, I heard someone describe a study that showed service brings more benefit to the helper than the helpee.  Sound familiar?  Jesus said it a couple thousand years ago: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  It’s another truism that happens to be true.  Science, as it so often does, is just catching up with Divine Truth.

If you’re suffering through chronic illness or anything, ask yourself this, “Am I happy?”  If you are, great!  If not, take a soul check: Are you obsessed with yourself?  Are you a me-monster?  Are you serving only yourself?

Take a look around.  There’s a whole world out there.  It’s bigger than you and it’s waiting to be known, experienced, and served.  Living in and for yourself is no fun.  We were created to be part of a community of love, acceptance, and service.  Jesus taught it and lived it.  It still works.

self1

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About rickconti

It's not about me, remember?
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14 Responses to MS and self

  1. Great perspective, Rick! Your are a courageous guy and I have BIG RESPECT!

    • rickconti says:

      Even though this post was all about taking our eyes off self and considering the world around us, I’ve obviously been so self-absorbed I somehow missed these kind and encouraging comments from you and others, David. I apologize it took almost three years(!) to read and acknowledge them. Thank you so much.

  2. Margaret says:

    Hi Rick, I really love what you wrote! And it moved me to work on my recent big disappointment, that I have to give up my love of long walks, as they found arthritis is messing up my hip. And, I hope I can put up with pain, without getting hip surgery the dr. says I’ll need down the line!

    • rickconti says:

      Margaret, you are always so encouraging. Yet here I am almost four years after this comment just now responding. (See previous reply to David.) No excuses. I’ll make sure to thank you in person next time I see you, which I hope will be no later than Christmas Eve.

  3. mickcgorman says:

    I try to give attention more than receive it but sometimes on the inside I am screaming “what about me? I’m sick” a bit like a pouting kid really! 😀
    I enjoyed the posting.

    • rickconti says:

      As I said in my response above to David, I somehow missed the comments for this post when they were made almost three years(!) ago. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. Mick, please accept my apologies and my belated gratitude for such encouraging words.

  4. Cousin Carol says:

    This touched me more than you know. Not being ill is one thing, but I truly can relate to this. How many of us have had ptiy parties and only to realize how selfish we can be. We all have stuff to bear, but none like our Maker. Keep posting Cuz!

    • rickconti says:

      One more mea culpa: Carol, my profound apologies for not acknowledging this comment till now. I just noticed it nearly four years late because someone else just commented on the post today. I’ll grovel in your presence when I see you next. In the meantime please accept very belated appreciation for you and your comment. With love from your cuz. Just cuz. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Partnership | Limping in the Light

  6. Diane. Elsensohn says:

    Such Great Writing !! I went through selfless thoughts while buying gifts the other day. Then thought “Better to give” it Made my Day. So that what I thought would be nice, is now someone else’s Gift. Really is Better to Give !!!! Can’t wait, So Hopeing for a Smile !!!! Lovely Writing. :-). ❤

    • rickconti says:

      I’m glad the post was an encouragement, Diane. Thank you for your kind words and for reading! They were an encouragement to me.

    • rickconti says:

      Thank you again, Susan, because if you hadn’t posted this comment, I wouldn’t have noticed (and had a chance to respond to) those other posts from all those wonderful people. I’m indebted to you. Keep commenting! 🙂

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