Tag Archives: acceptance

The Un-Signposted Road

signIn the three years and two days since I was diagnosed with MS, I’ve been waiting for A Sign.

Something huge, massive, with the words ‘Congratulations! You’ve made it through! Life Can Now Return to Normal!’

I thought, ok, if I go through the five seven twelve stages of grief and adapting to MS, I would pop out the other end ready to pick up the threads of my old life. I would brush myself down and carry on regardless.

Only three problems with that: my old life no longer exists, MS is a bit bigger than I gave it credit for and there won’t be a sign.  I’ve come to realise that there simply isn’t an end point, it’s a continuous process, so I might as well just get on with it (note to self). Quite possibly I’m stating the obvious and am a bit late to the game.

Looking back, I think I was a little guileless about the whole thing. I used to think A Sign could be:

  • When I would no longer spend an evening bemoaning my fate and crying into my wine, Morrissey playing on a loop in the background.
  • When I didn’t reach for the MS Nurse Relapse Hotline every time a tiny new symptom appeared.
  • Ditto, I wouldn’t endlessly google every tiny new symptom which would bring up a list with not just MS but every other horrifying illness on the planet and subsequently I would go to bed crying (see first point).
  • When I wouldn’t quake with fear when meeting with my neurologist as I would be semi-fluent in long MS medical words.

Nope. Well, of course they all count towards some kind of acceptance of my weird and wonderful new life with MS, but it’s not the whole picture. MS has a funny way of tripping me up, literally.

Take the other day. I woke up, put the kitten out, put the kettle on and fell against the cooker. Gah. Later that day, I stumbled and whacked my arm badly. I had stranger than normal tingling in my left leg. My hand hovered over the MS Nurse Relapse Hotline leaflet. But, no, I put some Morrissey on, poured a glass of wine and settled down in front of Google instead.

I have therefore decided to count my blessings and enjoy my new life. The Teenager is thriving, my studies are going well, I love my job and, despite the occasional set-back, life is looking not-too-bad. Although I do wonder if my neurologist will have some pesky new MS words to slip into conversation the next time I see him, the meanie.

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Good Grief

Cardiff-20131102-00293I think I’ve finally come to terms with having MS in my life.

It’s been a long grieving process, a period of mourning what I have lost and what will never be.

But through this grief, I’m now more aware of what is good in my life, and I’ve discovered previously-untapped inner strength. So how well did I manage the classic five stages of grief?

Denial – This. Cannot. Be. Happening. I spent a long time with this thought, lying awake night after night, gripped by an unfathomable darkness, terrified of stepping into the unknown. It was an unreal situation and I blundered through it, denial far easier than facing up to very real fears.

Anger – I had this in bucketloads, plus an unhealthy dollop of self-pity. I was angry beyond belief. Just when my life was opening up again and long-awaited opportunities were within my reach, they were going to be snatched away? Seriously?

Bargaining – I didn’t really spend any time at this stage. I knew deep down that there would be no bargaining. Rather than try to exercise more or incorporate a healthier diet in an attempt to avoid the inevitable, I veered off in the opposite direction, thinking, ‘what does it matter, the damage is already done’. I self-medicated with chocolate, wine and comfort food.

Depression – This was the longest, most soul-destroying stage. I withdrew from the world, helped along by my symptoms speeding up the process. Home became my sanctuary and my prison in equal measure. Life was interminably bleak, the days long and dark, the nights longer. And darker.

Acceptance – After the awful depression, I had a choice. Either to go under or create a new way of living. I was fed up waking up every day under a cloud of misery. Rather than focus on what was lost, I looked at what I could do. What had this whole process taught me? After facing a vortex of fear and terror, the only way to look was up. The alternative was unthinkable.

Grieving allowed me to survive this change in my life and come out more positive and stronger within myself. Change comes in many guises, mine just happened to be MS. It shook my life to its foundations, but the resulting re-building is more secure and solid than before.

And the best thing? I had overwhelming support support from you, through this blog. Thank you.

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