Today is my birthday. I’ve received an unbelievable amount of birthday wishes on my FUMS Facebook and Twitter pages. It absolutely blows my mind that people all over the world know about little old me and my story and actually take time out of their day to wish me a happy birthday. That wouldn’t be true without MS. While Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has brought with it so many difficulties, worries, pains and heartaches, it has also brought new joys, wonders and friends that I would never have gained without it. I remember hearing people with diseases interviewed who would say that they were thankful for their disease. “What the hell is wrong with them?” I’d think. Who would wish for a disease? Especially one that is incurable, progressive and debilitating? No one – that’s who. But those of us with one, and who so choose, have found the little gifts that can actually come from something life-changing like a diagnosis. I sure as hell wouldn’t go back and choose to have MS again. However, since I do have it, I’m grateful for what good has come of it. Things like old friends who have found their way back to me because they heard I wasn’t well. Or new friends, gained through a little website with a potentially obscene URL. Whodathunk I’d have friends in Scotland, Estonia, Africa, Ireland, England, Canada, Katmandu? Not me.
I’m grateful for some of the ways that MS has changed me, too. I’m much more compassionate and understanding than I used to be pre-dx. I take great joy in “the little things” like having the hummingbirds come to my feeder, my perennial flowers that came back this year, watching my kids sleep, spending a day just chatting with a friend, having a day without pain. It’s a shame it took a jolt like MS to make me really live and feel, but it did, and for that, I’m grateful. I’m also more aware of my ability and responsibility to maintain and fine tune my own healthcare. Paying attention to nutrition, exercise, rest, and relaxation was not something on my radar before MS. I’m empowered by my own ability to “tweak” how I feel by laying down in the middle of the day or by eating more protein when I need more energy, etc. When first diagnosed, I felt very “done to” and out-of-control. Like MS would just march over me and there was nothing I could do to challenge it. On a cellular level that may be true, but I’ve found on a spiritual level, I can choose to be in control and I can decide to be happy despite the MS. The things within my control are many, and I’ve learned how to exercise that control. And those things outside of my control – and we all have them, not just MS’ers – they are just that – out of my control. I’ve learned how not to worry because worry is a wasted emotion, a waste of time, a waste of energy. It’s freeing, really. And a gift – everyday, and especially this day – my birthday.
What I really wanted to say in this post is “thank you.” Thank you to MS for the positive things that it’s brought into my life through a shift in perspective and awareness, and “thank you” to you all who have ushered me through much of my uncertainty and fear,
and provided support for me – and a community of us all – through your comments, “likes,” “shares,” and unwavering optimism. What a great gift – on my birthday, and everyday. Thank you.
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