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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MS: The Unlikely Teacher...

You can say many things about MS.

You can call it horrible, devastating, debilitating, and progressive. You can call it evil, terrifying, and monstrous. You can say that it destroys young lives, pulls people from the prime of life and sends them on a path of destruction and decline.

You can say that it attacks the central nervous system in a slow, insidious manner. That it turns healthy, productive people into fatigued, weak shells of their former selves.

We all know these things to be true, but allow me to put a slightly different spin on it...

MS can also be the unlikeliest of teachers. Let me recount the lessons and "AHA! Moments" that MS has allowed me to learn:

1. Life is precious and short, don't waste a moment.
2. The people who truly love you will always be there, no matter what your physical condition may be.
3. Your family and friends want you present, even if you are less than perfect.
4. Let go of your perfectionism, and accept what is.
5. Let go of the need to please others, it's an impossible task.
6. Learn to be grateful for the things you do have, and focus less on what you don't.
7. Learn to let go of your vanity, it is a waste of your time and energy.
8. Accept more, control less.
9. Value your time in this life, rather than just watching the clock and counting the years.
10. You are much stronger than you ever imagined.

I am sure there are more items I can add to this list, but these are the ones that truly stand out in my memory. I have changed more since my diagnosis 5 years ago than I ever did in the 34 years before MS. I have tried to become an individual who appreciates rather than envies, who is thankful rather than needy and jealous. I am far from perfect, but I am making progress.

Challenges are opportunities in disguise, and you must try to see them that way. I know it is so much easier to give up, be angry and hopeless. But it isn't the best mindset. Do whatever you can to avoid the temptation to sink into a depressive state, and instead turn yourself toward the positive. MS is horrible, destructive, and terrifying, but try to remember that things could be SO MUCH WORSE...

I hope that you find these words uplifting and helpful. If so, try to give this advice to other patients you find who are feeling lost and hopeless. Helping others is one of the greatest gifts, not only because you might change a life for the better, but because you might change your own life in the process.

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