by Harriette J. Schwartz aka HJSWritergal

© 2008 Article by Harriette J. Schwartz aka HJSWritergal

When diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, I knew that unlike the flu, this would be an ongoing battle. It scared the heck out of me, but set me on a course of action to learn to live with it. I did not realize, however, what the reaction of others in my life would be. People who saw me at first, witnessing my inability to move without a walker or a cane, seeing my fatigue, seemed appalled.

The onset and events of MS are termed, Exacerbations. My initial exacerbation was an almost crippling affair but did improve in time with treatment. Now that I appear normal, can drive anywhere and walk without even the use of a cane, it is deemed that I am better. Since a lot of my MS is not visible to others, their assumption is, I am well again. I may be improved, but I am never going to be without the effects of this disease again. That is now a fact of life. I am on my way, but it is the others in my life that need help adjusting.

MS can be an invisible disability to those who do not have it, particularly if your symptoms do not have you in a wheelchair. No one else knows if my vision is blurred; or if I am sleeping well; if my body is tingling or if I am stiff when I sit for a short period of time. People do not get why I am suddenly so fatigued I almost fall asleep standing up.

So far I am lucky and on the outside I look okay, so it is assumed that I am okay. Only I myself know that MS gives me good days, not so good days, and bad ones. Communicating this is key to others understanding the term chronic and how it affects daily life. I may look like I’m in the pink, but very often I feel like I’m stuck in a gray area. I do not walk around in a constant state of, “I am sick” either. I seek that even keel, which allows those close to me to understand just what I’m capable of on any given day and how rapidly susceptible to change this can be. This may necessitate a change of plans at a moment’s notice, but not by choice. It is the nature of the chronic beast that is MS. I still love you as much as I used to, but I cannot come over for dinner. You might have to come to see me.

I understand that I cannot beat MS, that instead I must join it in order to survive and go forward. Yes chronic is 100% of the time, but as they say I have the disease, it does NOT have me, not yet anyway. Would that those who love me and know me understood this as I do.

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