|« MS-EMPLOYMENT AND THE ADA||WORLD MS DAY »|
A few weeks ago I was doing so well. I was making all these plans and then "bam" down again- plans cancelled. But after my monthly sol-u-med this month I was back up making plans again.
What a crazy life! No wonder people look at me perplexed sometimes. I can be dragging myself around too tired to think then suddenly I'm better. I'm not a person you make plans with easily.
Today I celebrate my 75th Birthday. And the idea that I have been here for 3/4 of a century just blows my mind. Also the fact that for more than half of this time I have been living with MS, a disease that afflicts my CNS.
Yet,especially at the beginning of the disease I had not always felt ill. There's no doubt there is an importance difference between an illness and a disease. Organs have diseases, people have illnesses. Physicians diagnose disease, patient's suffer illnesses.
Illness is the way a disease complicates the life of the person who has it. Its seriousness depends upon the impairments it causes and how long it lasts. MS is a chronic disease and it can over time also become a chronic illness that can really complicate your life.
Somewhere along the time line of living with MS most people have that gut wrenching moment that this is chronic and there is no cure in sight. I can remember when fatigue and walking any short distance was becoming a real problem. I felt scared and bewildered. "How could this could be happening to me? "
I had a least a week when I couldn't stop crying and asking why,why me? Since then I have found out that most of us who are successfully living with MS have usually had that moment. The moment when the intellectual awareness that MS is a chronic disease becomes a gut realization that it's not going to go away and you know you have to learn to live with it.
This is when we stop waiting for the cure and reorganize our lives to live within new parameters to manage our illness due to our disease of MS. This is not a negative time.This is a time when we retake charge of our life.
Indeed this is when I started to learn how to live on the MS See-Saw. I found that to handle fatigue I had to handle my time well and organization was key. I promised myself that I would no longer waste time and energy looking for things or starting too many projects at once. And if I took up some new activity that would take time I had to give up something already on my docket. Everything had to have its time and place .
As problems with cognitive processing (mostly memory retrieval)annoyed me to no end I started using lists and other aids and I am still continuing to find ways to help myself with that.
I also decided that I was no longer going to be the person who told my neurologist "I would never ever need to use a wheelchair" when he recommended I use one for longer distances. Indeed over the years I have welcomed the decrease fatigue and bodily discomfort with the use of the appropriate assistive device when I needed it cane,walker,wheelchair etc.
And along my timeline I adapted my environment with ramps,wider doors,shower seats etc.as I needed them. And doing so became natural and appropriate.
I also began to truly appreciate the value of rest. The afternoon nap, resting before events, and planning ahead for a large event absolutely had to include rest before and after.
Lastly but importantly I have found pacing myself with the activities I do throughout the day has enabled me to live a much fuller life.
This doesn't mean that I haven't "fallen off the wagon" so to speak as I'm only human. But it really hasn't worked to push myself or deny reality so I always come back home to respecting my limitations.
One other factor that's been very helpful in my managing the MS See-Saw and live well has been the advance of science. The value of the knowledge gained about MS through research and the advent of pharmaceuticals to help us manage our illness better cannot be understated. It seems that it all started with the development of the first interferon drug Betaseron to reduce the severity and the amount of MS relapse's and hopefully disability.
I used Betaseron and it was helpful for years then as it became less effective I was switched to Rebif and had a pronounced turn for the better. I also have had other drugs that have been helpful. For fatigue Provigil, for pain Pamelor then I was switched to Cymbalta which was even more helpful.
Right now my monthly infusions of sol-u-med are also helping. And I'm looking forward to being able to use Ampra to help with my walking. But even if it's embarrassing I can't forget my bladder. With the use of Oxybuytnin I don't have to worry about wetting my pants and intermittent catheterization has saved me from repeated bladder infections.
As I now enter the last ¼ of my century I feel very positive. There is no doubt that knowing that the research in MS is continuing and that new medications are on the horizon is encouraging. And If getting better is not in the cards for me I do hope and pray that I keep most of what I have now physically and mentally.
I think what's most important remains a loving, supportive family and friends who understand and are willing to pitch in and help when you need it. And of course have things you have yet to do, places you have yet to visit, folks you have yet to meet, books I've yet to read etc..
My message for those younger people starting to live with MS and those who feel like your now on the MS See-Saw remember you still can have a good life. It may not be what you thought it would be but you can make it a good life. A life well worth living maybe for a whole century.
Live your life well ellie
|<< <||> >>|