Sunday, April 15, 2007

Poetry Corner: Hide n' Seek

When I was finally emotionally able to snap-out of my “woe is me” mode, I decided that I needed to force myself to do something I know that in the past I have loved.

Writing poetry has been a part of my life since my hand found pen and paper. I recognized that I hadn’t written a poem in about a year. 

To understand the significance you need to know that I carry a writing book and pen at all times. On average, I was writing about ten poems a month and here I had gone for a year with a single poetic thought!

Poetry Playhouse

I don’t recall exactly how it was done, but during a conversation with a co-worker who also writes, somehow within a few weeks we had formed a poetry writing group of five people; we called the group Poetry Playhouse. 

Our numbers and faces have changed over the past three years, but we are still meeting twice a month. Our only rule is that Poetry Playhouse has no rules; it is what you make of it. 

We critique, we share, we grow, and we inspire each other. This experience has made all the difference in the world to me.

One time, Poetry Playhouse had an assignment that we should all write a poem about “why we write” and that the poet who won the competition (i.e., poem that was most liked) had to do a presentation about his/herself in the following meeting. My poem won. 

I mention this because I think the message of the poem not only reflects why I write, but what this outlet has meant to me. 

It reveals how crucial it is that I have an outlet that provides so much emotional freedom; where I can express myself freely, with no holds barred. So here is the poem:

Hide n' Seek

language has a promise
that somewhere,
someone will understand -
in hopes that I don't feel,
… so alone

so, to the heir
I repeatedly toss
a variety of
my deepest secrets,
greatest loves,
most terrifying moments,
and only known comforts –
there to hide,
in slippery verse
as I continually seek
for the reason
language lies

By Diana M. Bateman
2004 ©

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Emotionally Handling The Diagnosis

Melene (left); Diana (right)

I think my diagnosis was different than for most people, in that I specifically felt it coming. For lack of a better explanation...I will simply tell it how it was.

When my older sister told me about her multiple sclerosis (MS), we were in a hospital hallway visiting my younger sister who had recently broke her back in a fall. 

I had been home just two months from serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among the deaf in the mid-western US.

I had missed a lot while I was gone on my mission and had come home during a particularly hectic time for my family. So, when Melene pulled me aside to say she had MS, I felt overwhelmed because of everything else that was going on around me. 

I felt a confused-fear because I didn’t know what MS was. I felt my heart and mind race and then all of the sudden I felt a powerful surge of...peace. 

The peace ran through my body and a silent voice whispered to me, “It’s okay, all is well. Everything is as it should be. Have faith, the comfort will never cease. Melene will not have to face this alone.” 

At the time, I had no clue what that impression really meant; other than all would be well and that I felt peaceful about her future.

Life went on but that voice never left me. Through the years, as I occasionally gave Melene her shots, I simply used the time to get to know MS and how it had affected her. Though I became aware of MS, I never could have attempted to understand it until my day came

I never would have thought that in my late twenties and early thirties that I would be able to listen to people thirty-plus years my senior and actually identify with their complaints about: forgetfulness, stiff joints, bladder issues, being out of breath and/or steam, or having difficulty picking things up that had been dropped.

Despite all of this, I must admit that I actually felt relief upon hearing the words “you have MS”. The waiting and wondering of what I already knew was validated. 

With a diagnosis, that meant I could start treatment. I was out of limbo, and finally I had something tangible to grieve over.  After a time, though, acceptance came into my heart and mind.
To celebrate that we knew what was wrong, my husband took me out to dinner and to see the movie “Finding Nemo”. 

This silly celebration taught me something very important, which is to celebrate knowledge and to continue living life.

Living your life based on the
unpredictability of MS can be
more detrimental than the
disease itself.

To withhold opportunities, activities, and goals because you aren’t sure how your MS is going to affect you from day to day, only makes room for a lonely and unhappy existence.

In the beginning every symptom I had scared me.
But it was my self-perpetuated fear of the unknown that probably made everything worse.

I was worried about losing my vision. I was worried that my husband may feel duped in marrying a chronically panicked nut case. 

I think I was most worried about the future possibility of being affected by some mental or physical debilitating turn in my MS.

I am very independent and to think about the real possibility of handicap or limitation of any type was a constant nightmare. I don’t like the idea of it now either, but I am more aware of those supporting me and that we live in a day and age where there is actually hope of living a semi-normal life with MS.

I am determined to accept my situation, move on and try to let this disease fuel a motivation to never give up.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Denial: A Hurt Feeling Waiting To Happen

It is frustrating when you are perfectly comfortable being a hurt feeling waiting to happen and the only one who knows what you are going through.

My denial phase occurred during the five months before I actually went to see a doctor about my blurred vision, extreme eye pain, migraines and fatigue. 

I was a Literary Studies eyes and alertness were crucial, yet I couldn’t explain to myself the need to ignore what was going on with my body.

It didn’t take long to realize that I needed a positive outlet. The tough part though, was that I had hit rock bottom and was depressed. I had lost all interest in things I was talented at, that I enjoyed doing, and even associating with people I love and admire. I masked the depression (or so I thought) with overworking and ostracizing myself. 

Masking the issues was relatively easy to do, because my husband was overseas and I spoke with him rarely; it was easy to hide the issues and not tell him anything. Not telling him actually seemed logical, because what could he do from thousands of miles away - worry? 

My parents thought I was just coping with my husband's deployment, busy working, completing my last semester of college, and handling the construction of a new home for my husband and I.

Truth be known, I was sinking further and further into a well dug hole. I was comfortable, and I felt that although I wasn’t in control of my body and pain, I could at least control everything else immediately around me. 

I needed to be upset when I wanted to be (which was preferably when I was in total solitude). I needed to feel like I was being picked on, because then I was justified in being angry. I needed to be busy, so I could complain about it rather than about the incessant pain I was in.

Though I finally got myself to a doctor for my eyes and migraines, I didn’t tell the eye doctor of my suspicions about multiple sclerosis (MS). I let him talk on and never really paid attention to his suspicions about two or three possibilities of what might be wrong (none of which were MS). For some reason though, I did take his referral to see a Neuro-ophthalmologist.

I made the appointment to see the Neuro-ophthalmologist and decided that I didn’t want to waste my time anymore. I just told the doctor that I knew I had MS and could I get the medication and be on with it. I don’t know why I was surprised to find out that it didn’t work that way, but I was.

There was no definitive line between denial and coming out of it for me. There was no big awe-inspiring moment or conclusion; it just kind of went that way. I still didn’t want to tell anyone about the MS until I had a firm diagnosis. 

I wasn’t ready for that experience. Maybe there still was some denial at that point, because in my mind it wasn’t really “real” until I told my sister Melene. For some reason in my mind, that would make this all actually real.