Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Is pain in vain or just a drain?

I like to say I’m kicking MS to the curb, and often that seems to feel pretty appropriate. But the temptation to take credit for small victories is very real – until something trips me up, and I hurt in the ways only fellow MSers can fully understand. I reel. I stumble. I fall flat. I ache. I go numb in random places. I feel sudden jabs of crazy agony that come and go with a mind of their own. And I face a host of other multiple sclerosis medical oddities, nuisances, and (yes) pain.

Maybe you know the feeling.

The past month has been a spot-on example of this for me. As earlier posts recounted, I tumbled in a recent trail event and broke my arm/wrist in a couple of spots. During the same stretch of time, I had a positive biopsy, which led to an outpatient surgery.  And my neuro ordered a CNS CT scan, which had to be tabled (pun intended) when the radiology tech insisted I’d need a contrast dye injection to which I am anaphylactically allergic.

(Trust me: I’ve been down that road before, and it wasn’t pretty.)


Enough of the self-serving organ recital. I could go on, but I’ll leave it right there. If you live with MS, you know the drill.  Let’s just say stuff hurts.

The point is pain.

Pain drains us. It saps our strength, commands our energies, and dares to drag our dispositions into the dumps. But it can also be a compass reset, especially when we are racing along merrily in seemingly self-sufficient overdrive.

The Chronicles of Narnia author and renowned Christian theologian C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), who also wrote The Problem of Pain, said this about suffering: 

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

I’m not deaf, at least not in the physical sense. I’ve been blind (from MS), but not deaf. Still, I can be deaf in the figurative sense. Or my noisy life can drown out the most important voice of all.

See, that’s the gift I’ve found from living with a chronic and often unpleasant medical condition.

I’m not happy about having M.S. But I am grateful for the ways a merciful God meets me in moments of agony or distress to offer company and comfort and consolation. I am thankful for His much-needed reminder that every breath and every heartbeat and every step comes from His grace (for MSers and non-MSers alike).

Because without pain, I might just think I’m too busy and too strong and too invincible to notice my own need or to hear His answer. And, if anyone understands pain, He surely does.

Here’s another thing about pain. It can also alert us to the suffering others face, which is almost always worse than our own. (Checkpoint needed.)

Follow-up:  The arm is healing. The cast has been replaced by a removable brace.  I can wash both my hands and even wear a winter jacket again. The (ouch!) physical therapy part of the process has begun. I can almost type with both hands. The cancer surgery seems to have gotten it all. And the headache medicine is beginning to work again.

Best of all, although I’ve been slugging it out (one-handed) with the MS MonSter throughout the holiday season and well into the midwinter mopes, I should be up and running in no time, instead of simply climbing the walls. OK, maybe a month.

Pain isn’t always permanent, thank God.
 Public domain artwork

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