Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Happy Anniversary MS

I waited until the end of the day to wish my MS a Happy Anniversary. I didn't want to spend the whole day partying with my Mind Sparkles. And I didn't. But now, it's time to acknowledge the passage of another year and head off to bed with my daily injection of my disease-modifying drugs.

Three years ago today, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  I called my primary care physician with what I thought was pink eye and then, three days, a slew of expensive medical tests, and still more specialists later, and a neurologist named Kenny told me that I had Multiple Sclerosis. It was September 1, 2007 and my life was forever changed. And it continues to change with every passing year.

The first year was all about learning--what MS is and isn't, how to be a patient, how to accept the fact that I had MS, how important it is for me to focus on the positive and find the funny, and what kind of support I need and don't need to live with the disease. I started to learn about balance but that's been an ongoing lesson. I should have my PhD in balance by the time all is said and done.

In my second year with MS, I learned how to question my treatment and advocate for myself with people in the medical profession. I also learned that I could pick the people on my medical team and, since it's my disease, I'm kind of the captain of the team and get to pick other members. I also learned that, just because I didn't let my diagnosis change my vision of myself as vibrant, strong, smart, and able to wish and dream just as big as I ever did, doesn't mean that everyone sees me that way. I also learned to surround myself with people who share my vision of myself as Julie who has MS and not MS that has Julie.

In the third year, I learned more about acceptance and letting go. I have no control over the future so why stress about all the possibilities and ruin right now. I also learned how important it is to take care of myself...and not just because of the MS. Even WITHOUT a neurological disease, our bodies are fragile and need us to treat them well with rest, movement, our thoughts and attitudes, and healthy nutrition. Pleasure is awesome and certainly has its place but the quieter, sustained satisfaction I get from self love activities without an instant payoff is pretty damn awesome. Delayed gratification is not as boring as I thought it was.

As I begin my fourth year with MS, I'm imagining what this year will bring. I'm guessing that I will see more evidence of how focusing on helping others is the best medicine for combatting self-centeredness and self pity. I'm trusting that I will have many opportunities to reinforce the lessons I've learned about balance and how important it is to live healthily, have fun, be responsible, and most of all, find joy in as many moments as possible. And where there is no joy, find truth and the ability to express it authentically. I'm also really, really hoping that I commit to the tedious process of editing my book, finalizing a proposal, and shopping it around to agents and publishers.

So, Happy Birthday MS. You are alive and well but I will outlive you. :-)


  1. Can you say a little more about the "self love activities"?

  2. Great attitude! And, I'm a bit shocked how quickly you were diagnosed. I'd say you hold the record for a speedy diagnosis of MS. Kudos to your doctors. With knowledge comes power! :-)

  3. I am looking forward to the day you tell us all you are published. The way you write I am sure it will be an enjoyable read.