Two weeks ago, I had my first real business trip.
I don’t know why it was so exciting — but I was thrilled with the idea that I was traveling for work. I didn’t care that we were going to Kansas City (and Denver, but the business was in KC) and flying every morning for three consecutive days. I didn’t really think that missing my daily bike rides would be a big deal, and I figured Starbucks (with their chai tea and green juice) were everywhere.
On the heels of this illustrious business trip, I had invited all my work people over to the house for food. I don’t know what I had been thinking when I invited everyone — but I had, and it pulsed on the calendar — dark black letters, and the knowledge that at some point, I’d thought it would be ‘fun’ to have my co-workers and boss over for food. (It was actually fun!)
Long story short, I mentally survived both the business trip and the little afternoon get-together. But my body did not. I woke up last Monday and could barely walk. Everything made me dizzy. I wasn’t sure what I remembered and what I didn’t from the days that had preceded it. My body just shut down. And remained in power-save mode for nearly a week.
I’m telling you, I’ve had these moments before, but never quite this debilitating. Never quite this all-consuming. I spent Monday in a fog of sleep and intermittent email checks. I only got out of bed to use the bathroom. And once to venture downstairs to eat. But in general, I felt like I was going to die.
I’m sharing this mostly because M.S. is no joke, folks. And even those people who live with it every day live very specifically because of it, or live very uncomfortably. I was so angry for so long about the sacrifices. But now, I fully understand and appreciate why things are the way they are. I’d rather eat vegetables, ride my bike and go to bed at 9pm and still be able to fairly fully and functionally exist in society. Rather than do whatever I want, whenever I want, and pay the price over…and over… and over Because the further into this abyss that I slide, the more I know about how long everything takes. And with M.S. it’s about ten times longer than normal. Ten times longer to heal. Ten times longer to recover. Ten times longer.
Most people can do a three-day business trip, go to work the last two days, prep their house for some people to come over and eat, and then continue into the next week unscathed. Not this little duck. Yesterday was the first day I woke up and didn’t struggle to walk the first few steps out of bed. Seven days after our luncheon.
I used to feel self-conscious if I said no, or went to bed early. As though I was being a bummer, a drag. I’ve gotten over that. Every once in a while I push it too hard, I try to go a little further than I should…. And then last week happens. Brain fog for a full week of work. Night sweats. Painful exhaustion. And I remember with amazing acuity that I have multiple sclerosis.