Multiple Sclerosis – The Gift that Keeps on Giving | MS Blog

In one of my first blogs I wrote about how MS changed my life

I only touched on it briefly and it is such an important topic that I have a feeling it will come up in many different ways in my blog posts.  My diagnosis really brought about a paradigm shift in my life.  Since I was only twelve years old at the time, that shift marked more of a beginning of life as I knew it, rather than a change.  Oddly, I don’t have many memories from before my diagnosis and I believe this is because life only became meaningful after that point.

 MS Wake Up Early

At the time, I learned how precious each moment is

I learned to value every ability, relationship, and experience.  I stopped taking things for granted.  When I pray each night I ask G-d to give me the courage and strength to wake up the next morning and I ask for full use of my body and mind.  When I wake up, the first thing I do is check those things.  I wiggle my fingers and toes, stretch my arms and legs, open my eyes, and just feel my own body.  Although I’m not a fan of mornings, it is pretty exciting when I finish my check list and find everything is in working order: I can see and feel, I know what day it is and who I am.  And then I thank G-d for waking me up today.

MS Many Gifts I started this routine when I was first diagnosed, and fourteen years later I still do it…for the most part.  See, sometimes I get off track.  We all fall into our routines, and get caught up in the daily grind.  Despite having this life altering illness, I too get sucked into moments of life when I forget to touch base with my Creator and pause to appreciate all I have.  Ironically, MS tends to remind me of my blessings whenever I start to get complacent. 

I have always reflected on how incredible it is that the very nature of this disease is that it causes me to shift my perspective and choices in life on an ongoing basis

I have relapsing remitting MS, which means that I have periods of time where I have a lot of symptoms at once or my baseline symptoms worsen; this is called an “attack” or an “exacerbation.”  After an attack I can get better and spend time in remission.  What is so incredibly ironic to me is that I have a disease that has built in “reminders” of the life lessons I promised myself to live by when I was diagnosed.  If I get too complacent and start to take things for granted, I have a tendency to push myself too hard and that results in symptoms.  Ironically, I receive these symptoms as a little kick in the butt.  I see it as G-d’s way of giving me a push in the right direction and reminding me of all the blessings I have each day.  I don’t know that G-d is regularly stepping in when I need this reminder.  I think instead that my disease was engineered with a type of spiritual “negative feedback loop”.  My body has a built in mechanism to remind me of all that I have to be grateful for and in my case, because I do believe in G-d,

to remember to say “Thank you!” every day 

By the way, you don’t have to believe in G-d to understand this or relate to it.  You can still have gratitude and joy from being able to walk or having loving friends and family, even without belief in a higher power. 

MS continues to tweak my perspective on life and my values on a daily basis.  As a twelve year old, the diagnosis gave me a new foundation, a new lens to view life with.  But on a continual basis, my lens is being revised and updated which is a pretty exciting way to live life.  I feel like I find a newness in my daily life fairly often, whether it be in developing a deeper understanding of a part of myself, offering a fresh perspective to a friend, or discovering a new way to value a friendship.  As a result, my disease is a continuous gift filled with endless little compartments that I get to unwrap as I move through this life.

 MS Wake up and Live

I know that not everyone with a chronic illness will share this perspective and that’s perfectly fine.  This is how I have chosen to view the unpredictable nature of life with this illness.  For me, the lack of continuity in my health can be frustrating.  But when I take a moment to pause and am in the right mindset, I am able to see that it is this aspect of the disease that makes me feel alive.

I may not love the method used to remind me to “plug back in to life” but ultimately,

I’m glad that I get to say “Thank you” to G-d, to family, or to myself, with a fresh lens every time  

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