Multiple sclerosis has affected my life in many ways. Not surprisingly, when talking about my MS, I tend to talk about the negative things. No matter how much I might try to make the best of them, there’s ultimately not much positive in the way that the condition has affected both my brain and my body. Yes, I have been able to run a marathon, and I’m not sure I ever would have done so if I hadn’t been spurred on by a stubborn desire to show my body who is boss....but, given the choice, would I get rid of the pins and needles, muscle weakness, fatigue and all the rest of it? Of course I would. Who wouldn’t?
That said, I am starting to slowly become aware of the positive ways that my MS has affected my life. I have changed as a person and, on the whole, I think that I’ve changed for the better. As a younger man, I was often angry and frustrated; I would get annoyed at ridiculous things and let them bother me. I’ve never really been much of a ranter or raver, but I was stubborn, opinionated and outspoken. Some of those traits are still very much present and correct (and I can see the people who know me the best laughing as they read that…. ), but I honestly think that I’ve become more tolerant and phlegmatic than I used to be.
I used to think that hell was other people and that I was an island, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that that just isn’t true at all. I’m an introvert who, if I’m ever enticed out to a party (doubtful), will likely spend my time looking at the bookshelves and records rather than engaging a stranger in small talk, but at the same time, I love to be around people. The best part of my job by far is the team I work with.
So what’s MS got to do with that change? Isn’t all of that just a normal part of getting older (and hopefully) wiser?
I didn’t know what my future held when I was diagnosed with MS. I still don’t know. What I do know is that I have an incurable condition and that there is very little that I, or anyone else, can do to affect my future outcome. If I wanted, I could choose to focus on all the negative changes this has made to my life and to worry about all the negative impacts it might have on me in the future. Goodness knows, plenty of people do. Really though, what would be the point of that?
Yeah, so my muscles have wasted on my left hand side and both legs feel weird when I run, blah blah blah. So what? If I want to run - and I do – then you just have to get on with it and run, don’t you?
Do it, or don’t do it.
That’s basically all there is to it. There’s absolutely no point moaning about something that I can’t change.
And that, in a nutshell, is what’s changed: I’ve become much better at letting the little things go and I try only worry about the things I can change. I’m not saying that I’ve become Buddha or anything like that, but I think it’s a change that’s helped make me a calmer, happier person.
Maybe that’s not all down to my MS and perhaps I’m just older and wiser, but MS has definitely played a part in helping to get me there.
....it’s either that or the MS has fired up my stubborn side and I just steadfastly refuse to let its many indignities drag me down.
One or the other. Maybe both.