I’m working with the builder on a major kitchen refurbishment. As my work mainly involves making coffee, doling out biscuits, trying to decipher architectural drawings and sweeping up, this leaves me a lot of time for random thoughts.
The other day, I realised that a kitchen re-fit is an apt analogy for coming to terms with MS. Bit of a leap, but honestly, hear me out.
Ok, so the old kitchen is a bit tired and creaky but seems to function well enough. Until it doesn’t. You gut the whole thing out, uncovering problem after problem. Dark corners are exposed, dodgy pipes, rotten bits of wood supporting entire worktops.
A bit like discovering your body has hit the ‘error’ button repeatedly and you notice something is drastically wrong. Tests and probings uncover even more problems. When your life is completely dismantled like an old kitchen, you can either stay buried under the debris or rebuild your life in your own, new way.
So, the best kitchens, and lives, need solid foundations. You need people you can trust to help you – no cowboys, no fair-weather friends. Get rid of them. The next bit is re-building the kitchen and your life to your own specifications. With expertise and support – be it from builders, neurologists, MS nurses – you get the best results.
Finally, with your new life and kitchen in place, comes the fun bit, choosing all the optional extras. Trying something new, making new friends, changing jobs, taking up that hobby you always said you’d get round to. The secret is all in how it’s put together.
If I had to take one positive thing out of being diagnosed with MS, it’s the chance I had to fundamentally reshape my entire life. It’s still my life, it still does what it says on the tin – just as a new kitchen is still a kitchen. The difference is, every component has been changed. I have a deeper relationship with my son, a better job, a whole bunch of new friends, I’ve tried something different (blogging, Twitter, standing up for myself). The dreadful symptoms to one side, my life now is more emotionally fulfilling than before.
The dark days are behind me for now, but I know if they come back again, my foundations are strong enough to withstand them.