Hold on! Having MS, I'm thankful for ...
November is a popular month for thankfulness, as we count the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Lots of bloggers put up daily posts, pointing out things for which they are grateful. That set me to thinking.
Is it possible to be thankful for multiple sclerosis?
That’s a tall order. But I believe enumerating blessings is a healthy and worthwhile endeavor. With that in mind, here’s my alphabetical list of MS-related things for which I am thankful. Some items may seem tiny and trivial, but they matter to me.
Awareness – Before MS, I pretty much operated on auto-pilot, never having to focus much on personal health concerns or my own physical condition.
Believing – My faith insists that every battle is part of God’s purpose – even MS.
Cooler temperatures – I’m not a big fan of bitter winter weather, but I definitely appreciate the onset of autumn’s sweater-y days. I’ll even put on a parka with a smile, as long as frigid winds don’t chill us to the core. (Extreme cold sets off MS issues too.)
Dogs – I have a couple of high-energy canines who nudge me and urge me to be up and about, even on my MS-draggy days. I’m always glad I did, especially when I didn’t really feel like it. Their enthusiasm is contagious and rewarding.
Energy – MS makes my energy rise and fall. My vim and vigor varies. Knowing this, I make merry when my wherewithal is worthy of it.
Fellow MSers – I gain considerable encouragement and helpful information from others who are fighting the same MonSter as me.
Glasses – As chronology and MS dim my vision somewhat, I am grateful for my specs, which are most often perched atop my head. Now, if I could just find them …
Horses – Although I don’t always ride (like when MS vertigo attacks full force), simply being around these wonderful creatures heals my spirit in ways nothing else can.
Icepacks – This sounds simplistic, but there are days when a little chill can be a beautiful thing.
Jokes – Yikes! Please don’t fill the comments section with hokey quips, tired riddles, and painful puns. But I have to say that humor is healthy. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, how can we fight the MS MonSter? Comic relief is definitely real relief.
Knowledge – When a doctor first told me that I might have MS, it blindsided me. As I awaited the diagnosis, I began to research and read. Learning that MS is not a death sentence and what life with MS might look like gave me hope, which I carry today.
Layers – Like most MSers, I am temperature-sensitive. That means I am layering and peeling my clothes all day long.
Music – I think everybody sort of has a soundtrack for his or her life. Or maybe we ought to. I enjoy compiling playlists for all sorts of activities and settings. Playing some favorite songs brings me joy, increases my energy, and draws me out of the MS dumps.
Nutrition – I used to eat nearly anything I wanted. Cravings counted. As I’ve learned more about MS and its symptoms (including headaches, various forms of inflammation, and gut issues), I’ve also explored proper nutrition with more interest and discipline. I believe I am healthier overall as a result, and I’m grateful for that.
Occupation – I love to write, even when I’m cranking out copy to meet a deadline. It’s expression. When I write about MS, it’s also an outlet. (Thanks for reading.)
Pain-free days – Every day without an MS migraine is a big blessing. (Remind me of this on my worst headache days, would you?)
Quilts – I’m not a thimble-fingered artisan, but I have made a few cozy patchwork quilts that welcome me warmly when MS sidelines me. It’s nice to have a nest when I need it.
Recreation – OK, this kind of goes with exercise (see below). But a bit of distraction and fun can go a long way, when it comes to coping with MS … or life in general.
Stretchy clothes – Tailored clothes are awesome and stylish, but some MS days simply call for extra ease in dressing and wearing. Yes, I’m one of those moms who darts out to do errands in gym clothes (but never in PJs).
Timing – I count it as no small gift that many of my worst flare-ups have somehow peaked when I have been home, rather than out of town and in the middle of some inescapably hectic event.
Understanding – Lots of non-MSers will never comprehend what the MS life is like. Maybe that’s OK. I’m just grateful for those who are willing to come to understand why our energy waxes and wanes, why we may seem absolutely fine one day and fall to pieces the next, and why we make plans that may require last-minute rescheduling.
Victories – Living with MS can be frustrating, and it takes flexibility to face canceling when symptoms flare. But I think it’s important to celebrate the times when we can actually show up and meet goals and live life at its best.
Walking – Before MS, I assumed everyone who had it would eventually become unable to walk without assistance. Since MS, I have trained and run a full marathon. I know my own outcome could have been so very different. I am extremely thankful that I can still walk and run.
eXercise – Grateful for continuing mobility, I am pleased that I am able to keep on running and biking and hiking and horseback riding and pursuing other physical activities I like -- at least on my better days.
Youth – Most people would say I am no longer young. I’m celebrating a milestone birthday this month. But some say 40 is the new 20, 50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 40, and so on. I don’t act my age, even with MS. I don’t plan to. And I’m thankful.
Zen – I don’t practice formal meditation or follow the religions that promote “Zen.” So I’m using the term rather loosely here. But I am grateful for the de-stressing that comes with accepting MS. Once I learned to live with this chronic medical condition, I realized a sense of power, rather than defeat. Contentment brings its own sort of relief. MS has become a challenge to face, a dragon to slay, and a MonSter to kick to the curb. I’m not giving up here.
Adapted from public domain image