Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"You definitely have Multiple Sclerosis". The neurologist said this with emphasis on the word "definitely". He also said this with somewhat arrogant smugness...as if he was proud of his proclamation. So self-assured...so convincing...who was I to question this man's judgment? I was only the "patient" (translated to, "the person who is going to mindlessly pay my bill for this 5 minute consultation") after all.

But I DID question...I had so MANY questions. I was a nurse, but had only had a 1/2 hour lecture about MS in nursing school almost 20 years prior to the neurologist's proclamation. And, I was a psychiatric nurse...my mind was filled with minute details about psychotropic medications and therapy techniques and DSM IV diagnoses. There was no room in my brain for any obscure neurological condition like Multiple Sclerosis...and now this arrogant bastid was telling me there was a chance a LOT of room could eventually be created in my brain via "black holes" and "enhancing lesions" and "axion damage". But, this was possibly going to become USELESS room in my brain...blank spaces...debilitating me over the next few years.


5 years ago TODAY, I sat in this neurologist's office listening to him spew his passionless line, "You definitely have Multiple Sclerosis". And 5 years ago today, my life changed forever. Not that it wasn't ALREADY destined to "change forever"...such is the nature of living. There is no precharted path...no preplanned course of journey...no guarantees in living. We are only promised a "chance" at being born, living, and eventually dying...these are the ONLY guarantees in life. And "IF" we are fortunate enough to extend the middle portion of the journey (living), then we take our chances with how the dice will land. MY dice just happened to bounce with an "M" and and "S" face up...snake eyes.


At first, I was certain I had just received news of a death sentence. Over the course of the next year (or at least until my taxes were due AGAIN on April 15, 2004), I fell into a typical "newly diagnosed" depression. I worried EVERY day that THIS day would be the one I awoke blind or paralysed or incontinent or unable to swallow. And some days I DID wake up with pain or numbness or an inability to put one foot in front of the other or with my world spinning violently out of control thanks to something I now know to call "vertigo". But, my "death sentence" never came...in spite of my sometimes WISHING it would. As my friend PennyAnn graciously stated to me a few months back in her attempts to come up with appropriate MS Slogans: "MS isn't fatal. Most days, that's the good news".


The concept of time has become more and more difficult for me to comprehend as I age. Although I DO distinctly remember/recall that shock of hearing "You definitely have Multiple Sclerosis" 5 years ago, I have a much harder time recalling each detail of my journey with MS since that fateful conversation. Somehow, in spite of myself...in spite of statistical "odds"...in spite of a case of "aggressive MS"...in spite of multiple failed drug trials...in spite of EVERYTHING...I have managed to continue living with MS with considerably LESS disability than many of my MS friends. And, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I.


I looked back last night through news casts and newspapers to see what was happening in the world on April 15, 2003. I was both pleased and a wee bit disappointed the fact I was diagnosed with MS did NOT make any of the news headlines...not even an honorable mention. Which leads me to believe it really WASN'T that newsworthy after all! But here I sit typing about it all the same...and I have to admit...5 years later, it remains not a big "news story"...to anyone, BUT me...

8 comments:

Shauna said...

My MS hit in the middle of the "Ice Storm of the Century" in January 1998 so the headlines were screaming about people all over Ontario and Quebec without power. Ha! I had no power, too, on my right side anyway. But did any of the media pick up on it? Buggers, those media people.....

S.

Shauna said...

Oh! And Happy Anniversary! Kind of...

S.

LISA EMRICH said...

Happy 5th Anniversary

Traditional Gift - Wood, symbolizing strength and a solidified relationship

Modern Gift - Silverware, symbolizing connectedness

So here's a set of virtual wooden spoons for you. May they come in handy.

Anne said...

My MS was dx'd three weeks after I got married in 1976 - and I was in my fourth year of medical school. The doc's "kind way of putting it" was to go for a career and forget having babies.

Dumb ass doctor.

Jim said...

Hi, You have been tagged by me to get to know you better.

Tricia said...

Hubby was diagnosed April 15th 1997. Tax day always reminds him too and in the 11 years since he has lost too much.

mdmhvonpa said...

Heh ... ms isnt fatal. Yeah, and most gunshot wounds are not either but I could do without them!

Diane J Standiford said...

You know, they say (or used to say) that the course of your diease can be judged at 5 years. I was so thrilled at 5yrs that I was doing ok. That year I got cancer--OY! Anne--agree. Diagnose/adios. times sure have changed. or have they? You have a sense of humor, Linda, that will take you far.