Friday, November 30, 2007

The Balancing Act Continues

I talked to my counselor this morning about how I realized that I couldn't do absolutely anything I wanted to do physically anymore because I have a progressive disease.

Let's back up a bit. My counselor is very involved in the MS community. She was referred to me by my insurance company almost a year before MS diagnosis. Random? I don't think so. One of her fellow therapists in the practice has a husband with MS and she has a cousin or sister or some other close female relative with MS. She goes to Women Against MS (WAM) events and she participates with an MS Walk team to raise a ton of money for the MS Society each year. I'm going to join the team this April. Anyway, she knows a lot about MS, it's progression, common symptoms, the unpredictability of the disease, etc.

So, when I talk to her about information I've read about MS, chances are she's read it, too. So, I expected sympathy. I thought I'd tell her the whole progression realization and she'd say something like: "Yes, Julie. It's very sad that you have a progressive disease and won't be able to climb mountains when you're an old lady. Here's a tissue."

Nope. She explained that "progressive" is relative and that it can be used to describe slightly worsening symptoms, nerve damage where there has already been lesions, etc. Just because I MAY not be breaking any world records to get to the top of Everest when I'm in my 80s, doesn't mean I will be playing bingo in a scooter. She agreed with me that I should be informed about the disease but it's more productive to focus on the solutions/coping mechanisms than on the worst-possible scenerio. Anxiety is only going to make me sick. Literally.

After I did the AIDS Ride, I felt invincible. For the first time in my life, I thought, "I am strong. Physically, I can do anything!" I used to think there were people who could do athletic events and then there were those who could not. I believed that I was born into the latter group and there I would stay until I died, probably fat with black lungs. Not so! I realized that if I set a goal, identified the steps I needed to take to reach that goal, and accomplished those steps, I could do ANYTHING. I truly believed that. Alhough I didn't run, I thought I could probably even complete a marathon if I was willing to run a lot and put in the training. I don't really enjoy running so that never happened (and probably never would have even without the MS). I did do the Avon Breast Cancer Three-Day a few years ago which was 60 miles of walking in the rain, sleet, and snow. (Hoooo-ah!)

Anyway, so when I digested the whole progressive thing the other day, I thought it meant that the way I've viewed myself for the last 10 years is no longer true and maybe never was. Kind of a pretty big pile of crap on the doorstep of my psyche. Maybe, just most things, it's not black and white. I can set reasonable goals--3-day MS Challenge Walk, maybe? (Not Everest, but I never really wanted to climb Everest anyway.) I could set the goal, train for it slowly and sensibly, take good care of myself, not get too tired, and try not to go a million miles per hour--mentally or physically.

Anyone could end up blind or in a scooter. It is not necessarily my future any more than it's Ken's or my sister's or my next door neighbor's. I need to accept my limitations but not expect the worst.

MS is just a big, huge balancing act. Rock on.

No comments:

Post a Comment