Life’s Curveballs: and how to roll with the punches. An essay by JJ McCartney.
Imagine a world that gets bigger every day. the distance between the kitchen and the couch gets longer. The distance to the bathroom, or the bedroom seems like miles.
Now imagine stairs, once merely a way of changing floors, now become a dangerous place you approach with growing trepidation. Now imagine being more tired than you can believe possible. From the moment you awaken each morning, you feel drained.
Now, imagine pain you cannot explain, quantify or in any way understand. Pain which follows no logical blueprint. Waves of pain wash over your hands, your fingers, your back, your neck, and your legs and feet.
Now, imagine trying to get anybody else in the world to believe you when you try to explain what you are feeling. None of your pain is visible, unless a careful observer notes the consistency with which it seems to afflict you and everything you go about trying to do.
A simple maneuvre like climbing aboard your riding lawn mower takes far longer and is far more of a challenge than it would have been in your 20’s or 30’s. Stepping around obstacles becomes far more hazardous. You have lost your sense of balance. Your muscular coordination seems compromised.
Now, imagine that you are hungry in the middle of the night and you just want to slice a few slices of cheese from the refrigerator. instead of being a 1 minute chore, it becomes a desperate search for a knife, a cutting board, and the cheese, hiding behind the tupperware holding the leftover casserole. Because you seldom stray into the kitchen any more, you have trouble finding what you are looking for.
Now, imagine you need to put ice in your favorite drinking glass or jug. You reach into the ice in the freezer, and suddenly it feels like someone has frozen your hands and thge pain of trying to use your fingers is as excruciating as any pain you have ever felt.
And still, nobody else can see it. to the outside world, you seem like a sniveler, ,a whining wimp that cannot handle even the moset menial or mundane, ordinary activity.
You have just stepped, momentarily into the life of someone with Multiple Sclerosis. Nothing about this disease makes any sense. In fact, that is one of the most frustrating parts of the disease, that it assaults your Central Nervous System without any respect or logic. And the simple, mundane activities which we take for granted when we are young and healthy.
The truly frustrating part is that this disease has been attacking me for so long, and I could never understand why. It is a cruel, vicious disease. Now, that is not to say it is the worst disease in the world. But when you don’t know what you are fighting, or how to fight it, nothing in the world around you quite makes sense.
For several years, I have gotten the odd stares from people in emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, hospital rooms, and because this disease is invisible, and because so much is not known about it, it becomes an albatross around the neck of the afflicted, while the rest of the world seems oblivious to it.
After years of tests, shrugs, and erroneous theories, finally my affliction has a name: Multiple Sclerosis. Finally, because we now know what it is, we have a fighting chance to reclaim things we had long since given up on. Medication, nutrition, and a positive attitude are all musts.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a life to live. ANd I am not taking this or any other day for granted ever again.