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.

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