Anne commented on the previous post, remarking "how" I am able to still go to work with MS. That comment got me thinking (which is always dangerous and often with poor result!)...but frankly, it's not a comment I haven't wondered about privately many times in the past five years without prompting.
I used to say I "don't have a choice" but to continue my employment, meaning I was my own, sole provider and SOMEONE should feel sorry for me...it's a fabulous martyr line and works wonders to steal the attention in a crowd of 12-step co-dependents, but it's not accurate. :) The fact of the matter is, we ALL have choices...and there's no reason for me to feel "bitter" or martyr-like because I CHOOSE to continue to work when I don't always FEEL like it. And I'm certainly NOT implying here that anyone with MS makes a CHOICE to stop working when they still "could" be gainfully employed if they only pushed themselves harder...that's crazy thinking, too. No one chooses their symptoms or disability that can come with Multiple Sclerosis and no one really CAN push themselves to do something their body simply is no longer able to do...it's not rocket science, but simple mechanics...if the body breaks down, it just doesn't WORK right anymore.
Right now, my body ISN'T "broken down" to the extent I am no longer able to successfully function in my line of work...hopefully my MIND also is functioning at proper capacity, too. LOL And you will never hear me bitch about the TYPE of work I do...oh sure, you definitely WILL read/hear me bitch about the hours, the meetings, the pay, and the politics/management of my job...that is the American way (and I AM a member of a Union, for gawd's sake!)...but you won't hear me complaining about the work itself. I enjoy my work...in fact, I truly LOVE my career.
Every day, I am challenged by the people I interact with in my job...whether it is the consumers I evaluate, other professionals, family members, or my own coworkers. The beauty of "crisis work" lends itself to constantly challenging my mind to problem-solve what sometimes seems an insurmountable issue...I am asked to not only problem-solve/make legal decisions, but to comfort, to empathize, to teach, to set limits, to process and think, to publicly speak, to be confident, to impart calm, to manage, to laugh, and to be present in the moment. I am asked to be the best "human" I can be, which is definitely a challenge sometimes when it might feel easier to be cold/uncaring or even inhumane...when extending myself feels too vulnerable, yet the "human" thing to do.
Every day (and I mean every day), I am reminded of Multiple Sclerosis, whether it knocks on my door via stiff/spastic calves that insist I stretch them out before trying to walk from my bed (lest I "swan dive" into the wall...been there, done that!) or constant, nagging pain in my left arm/shoulder. And, but for the grace of God go I, I still CAN walk from my bed and my pain level doesn't distract me to the point of removing my concentration...I am very fortunate and lucky in MS so far. The disease has not demanded I cease participating in a career that I love...I am very fortunate indeed.
So, when I am BITCHING here about Dawn's crack or demanding meetings or working too many days in a row, please know that underneath my crude manner is a person with MS who is thankful every day that the disease has not taken away something I hold near and dear to my heart...I'm talking about the work I do with others...the "others" who's disease of mental illness IS robbing them of their rightful good fortune.
And this is why and how I go to work each day...with MS...