I often feel that my brain is full of things to share, but my body is too exhausted to make the effort. I like to chalk this up to MS, and not inherent laziness.
Life is ever-changing, amorphous. It gently pushes you down different paths merely because of circumstance. And choice. Of course. We make the choices, even if we don’t realize it.
When I was diagnosed with MS, I felt relieved. That’s the truth. I knew something was wrong and the not knowing was a dark rabbit hole of fear. Knowing — while shattering — made things so much more clear. And I was able to choose what kind of MS patient I wanted to be. I didn’t want it to define me – despite the fact that it does define nearly every moment of my day. I recently read a blog post by a Lupus sufferer called “The Spoon Theory” and it certainly helped to define the immense ways that a chronic condition infiltrates your life. But … that being said, or rather, that being acknowledged, having a chronic condition remains only one part of who I am. And remembering that, holding onto that, is more important than anything.
This year, the man and I decided to go big for Lent. We gave up drinking (something we do often, and I fail miserably at) and eating meat. We successfully made it through forty-six days without alcohol or meat of any kind (meaning red meat, chicken, pork, etc). We did eat fish, but surprisingly not as much as I anticipated — although we did enjoy sushi as per usual! And what I found — much to my chagrin — was that I felt a lot better. Some issues that I had just accepted as part of my new normal subsided. And I began to feel good about treating my body so well.
That’s the thing.
When one of my friends had a child, she and her husband said they weren’t going to change — they were going to continue to live their life exactly as they wanted to, they were just going to do it with a child. But inevitably things changed because that’s the nature of life, of evolution. When I was diagnosed with MS I made the same declaration — I wasn’t going to give up things i loved, I was going to live life exactly as I had been living it.
But that’s impossible.
And as I ease into my reality (something that has definitely taken time and soul-searching) I have found that certain changes are inevitable. And some are necessary. I miss running. I miss it, and I mourn it but I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself because of the loss of it. It’s taken me nearly two years to get to that point — two long, hard, discouraging years. And in those years, I’ve begrudgingly made small changes. For the most part, to get through each day in an easier fashion. I initially didn’t understand people who drastically overhauled their lives — how did they just make a choice to change everything about who they were as people? I could do the green smoothies, the vitamin D — but I drew a pretty permanent line there. Going back and slowly redefining that line has been both character building and humbling.
So will I miss eating meat? Yes. I love a good steak, a juicy burger. But will I miss how it made me feel afterwards? Not just initially, but for the few days it takes my body to digest meat? Not really.
And I guess I have to admit the same for alcohol. And until I figure out how to enjoy things in tiny moderation, those are the choices I have to make. Just as parents cannot un-have a child (nor would they ever want to!) I cannot un-have MS. But life can still be beautiful for me — beautiful and full of adventures and good food and lemon-flavored sparkling water. And I’m finally getting to be okay with that.