MS🧠Kicks🧠Ass🧠But🧠So🧠Do🧠I

This morning I woke up for the fourth day in a row with limited (VERY limited/borderline no) feeling in my right leg. I’ve also been having increased tingling in my right foot, and some weird hearing issues. And lastly,  muscle spasms and tremors in my right leg. In the past I have had issues with my right leg losing feeling, but it came back after two rounds of steroid infusion therapy.

I know that this could just be a pseudo relapse due to stress (seeing as most of the symptoms are in a leg that has had issues before makes me think this is likely?) but it scares me nonetheless. It still means that something is wrong. It means that inside my brain there are parts that are dying, being eaten away at by my own immune system.

I have reached out to my neurologist and I am waiting to hear back about what he wants to do about this flare of symptoms.

Today has been a rough day. It’s so hard to explain what it feels like to know there is something wrong inside of you.

It’s so hard to trust your own body and listen to the strange sensations we feel with MS when there are people around you suggesting that it is “just your anxiety” or all in your head. I am still learning how to trust my body, something that is SO important with a disease like MS. God, it’s still weird to say sometimes, disease.

I am the one living in this body, I am the one who knows when something doesn’t feel right. I have lived long enough with anxiety to know when it is wreaking havoc in my body..and when it is not. When it is something else. So I need to trust what I know.

It sucks to have to miss out on things and have to stay inside and rest when my heart and mind still want to be out having adventures. It is unsettling to have a mind and body that are on completely different pages sometimes. I am not choosing to be sick. I am still learning how to accept that some things, like having this disease, are out of my control.

If any of you have someone who is struggling, who is sick, or who just are having a rough day today, give them a hug. Or shoot them a text reminding them they are a badass mother****** and that you love them! We all can use a little pick me up some days.

“Without a little lift, the ballerina falls.” – Next To Normal

So this is for you, yes YOU. The anxious ones, the sick ones, the overworked ones, the black sheep, the depressed ones, the frightened ones, the lonely ones. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE STRONG. YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE MEANT TO BE 💕 Keep on that fight, you courageous warriors!!

With a heart full of hope – A

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It’s OK not to be OK

This is not the easiest post for me to write. It is hard to admit that we are not perfect. It is not easy to discuss our failures and it is so hard to admit that we have thrown in the towel.

Last weekend I left for my first vacation (or even stay away from my home!) since my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last November. I was extremely anxious about it going in. I was worried about a whole multitude of things. But the biggest and nastiest fear, lurking under the floorboards of my heart, was that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I would get sick and need to go home, or be too anxious and need to go home, or never even leave the house to begin with!

I went in with a plan. I made lists, did research, and checked and double checked everything. I set myself up for success.

Things went well the first couple of days. The best parts of it were being able to spend time with my family and just laugh, be ourselves, and forget about our everyday worries for a little while. I have an amazing family. They make me laugh like no one else can, comfort me in a way that only years of strong bonds can teach, and they understand me better than anyone on this planet.

Don’t get me wrong, I was anxious those first few days. But it was like the pot was boiling with only half empty water. I wasn’t worried about it boiling over. Things were controlled. Looking back, I was needing to take my Xanax much more often than I normally would, but that is ok! It is what it is there for.

But then on my third night of vacationing I fell apart.

I think I was starting to feel the physical toll of being out in the sun, swimming, cliff jumping etc. It scares me – not cliff jumping, MS – Even though I feel it almost every day, every time my right leg goes numb and tingly it scares me. I tried to remind myself that I have felt that feeling before, it just means I need to rest and I will bounce back in a day or two.

I think I was also having a really hard time being away from the comfort of my routine and familiarity of being at home. I was letting it get to me that my meds weren’t in the same place they always are when I need them, that the bed made my back hurt and crunched like diaper every-time my husband rolled over next to me, that I didn’t have my dog to snuggle and pet when I started to feel the anxiety simmering closer and closer to the surface of the pot.

I don’t know what caused me to boil over. I was fine one moment and in the throes of a full-blown panic attack the next. All I could keep thinking was that I NEEDED to get off this island and go home. My husband tried to calm me down. I took my meds. We went back to our lodgings and laid down and tried to ride out this attack. But I just couldn’t shake it.

We ended up leaving the trip early due to my anxiety. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was giving up on something that I had JUST been so proud of, my courage. I felt weak. It was not a good feeling. I think I cried the whole ferry back to the mainland.

I let myself feel sad for the rest of the night. I allowed myself to feel guilty for leaving the wonderful trip my mom and dad had planned for us. I allowed myself to feel anxious and terrible, but just for a little bit.

I knew I had made my choice, and although I might be a mess right now, that is OK.

It is OK not to be OK. It is ok to admit that you have given it your best shot and you need to go home and rest now. It is ok to say I can only push myself so far. It’s ok to admit that I might not be quite as strong yet as I though I was.

I did a lot of self reflecting on the drive back home. I think it is important for me not to feel ashamed for not being able to stay the whole trip (something I really wanted to do not just for the fun and sun, but to prove something to myself as well). I think it is important for me to recognize that I did my best and that I will continue to work on it. That does not mean I am not strong.

I will continue to work on techniques to manage my anxiety. I will continue to meditate and live in the present. I will continue to be grateful for the little things throughout my day.

And some day, when I am ready, I will try again!

-A

Traveling with MS and Anxiety, Part 1: Leaving the House

As I am sitting here writing this at 4am it is currently the FIRST morning of the FIRST vacation I have gone on since my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

The day before we left I was terrified. I had 2 major manic attacks that day, one of them lasting over 3 hours until I finally passed out for the night. I was quite literally shaking in fear. My husband sat with me patiently, listening to me rattle off every possible thing that could go wrong on the trip and how it would most certainly lead to my death. He held my hands to keep me from digging my nails into my skin so deep that I bled. He counted slowly with me to make sure I kept breathing. He is my superman.

I used to be great at traveling. I moved to Chicago, by myself, when I was only 18. I used to dream of traveling the world and seeing every inch of it! I used to fly back to Minnesota to visit my family and didn’t think twice about getting on an airplane.

I am not sure when that all changed. I think it was about 3-4 years ago, around the time my anxiety became very intense and I was diagnosed with Panic Attack Disorder and PTSD.

Now, even thinking about getting on a plane leaves me scrambling for the bathroom with nausea. Now, staying overnight in unfamiliar places can trigger a panic attack before I even get there. Now, I have to take oodles of medication just to relax enough to be able to go to the place that I am SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING AT!

Multiple Sclerosis added a whole other level of anxiety to traveling. There are so many “what if’s” and unpredictability when it comes to MS. You can go to bed fine one night and wake up the next morning unable to feel your entire left side, or see, or speak. The thought of having a major attack when I am far away from home, my doctors, and the familiarity of my routine is extremely scary for me. What if something happens to my meds.

I’m going to have to give myself my shots ‘on the go’ for the first time. Woohoo, nothing like injecting yourself with disease modifying drugs and flaunting all of your injection sites in that hot new bikini you bought!

Two nights ago, I did not think I would make it on this trip. Hell, I didn’t even think I would make it out to the car. Even though the massive panic attack was telling me that:

“It’s not safe, it’s an Island for God’s sake!”

or

“You’ll get sick, you’ll be miserable, you won’t have the things you have at home to help you feel better”

or

“You are going to freak out. You won’t be able to sleep there at all. You’ll get so stressed out you’ll give yourself a relapse”

All of those things kept swirling through my head like a corndog in a nauseated kid’s stomach on a roller coaster.

I thought about canceling. But I didn’t.

I told myself that this disease and this anxiety has taken so much from me already. It can’t control my life. I WANT to see this beautiful island and waterfalls! I want to go on this trip!!! So, I mustered up all the courage that I could, packed my bags and we made it here!

I am so happy that I looked a scary thing in the eye and told it to fuck off. I am still having a little bit of anxiety, of course. But it is not stopping me from enjoying this time with my family.

This morning I am going to sit and watch the sunrise on a beautiful island, breathe in fresh air, connect with nature and most of all be grateful. Be grateful that I can still go on trips like this. Grateful that I can conquer some of my fears, one step at a time. Grateful that my family loves me and supports me the way they do. Grateful I found a husband who will always have my back and be my shoulder to cry on, bicep to snuggle, and hand to hold. Grateful for this new day. Grateful for this beautiful life.

TO SLEEP, OR NOT TO SLEEP? That is the freaking question!

Well, I have woken up to another day that I accidentally slept away the majority of. I always feel a mixture of guilt and embarrassment when this happens.

I usually wake up around 5:30am or 6:00am every morning with my dog. We get up, go outside, eat breakfast, and watch a TV show or two. I give myself my Glatiramer Acetate injection and take my meds. It’s a nice relaxing morning routine we are having. The issue is, without fail, by 10am I am so fatigued and exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open. So I end up taking a nap around that time most days. I try to keep it in the 1-2 hour range so that I don’t sleep too much and disrupt my sleep pattern.

Anyone with insomnia knows how delicate those patterns can be; nap just a little too long, drink one caffeinated drink too many and  BAM! HELLO 3am and wide awake!

I have almost completely cut coffee out of my diet. Originally it was in hopes of combatting my insomnia. But lately I have been thinking about maybe starting to drink one or two cups in the morning just to try to combat that peak in fatigue each day. Does anyone have any tips for fatigue? What have you found to be helpful? I’d love to hear any advice/input!

I didn’t sleep well last night. I had insomnia and laid in bed for about 4 hours before I  worked myself into an anxiety attack, took a Xanax and finally passed out. Lovely, isn’t it. But naturally I still woke up at 7am. By the time 9am rolled around I was falling asleep on the couch…until 3pm…

These sleep problems are tough to figure out. I know that my body does need quite a bit of extra rest due to my Multiple Sclerosis. I also know that severe fatigue is one of my most significant issues relating to MS. It’s hard because part of me says “Don’t let the fatigue control you! Don’t sleep away your life!” and the other part is saying “For the love of god woman, take the freaking nap so we can at least function for the last half of our day!” Usually team nap wins.

One of my worries I’ve developed since I got sick has been that people will think I am lazy. It is so hard to explain this kind of fatigue to those who have never suffered from it. It’s so different from feeling tired or sleepy.

It’s ten-ton bones, muscles made out of silly putty, weights hooked to my eyelids, sick to my stomach, mind consuming, room spinning, body shaking exhaustion.

So on these days when my body takes over I try not to let myself feel too guilty about it. Obviously my body needed the rest, or it would not have slept for that long! I try not to worry that I did something wrong. Even on the days when I am doing nothing I am actually doing something huge. I am fighting a disease. I am surviving a chronic illness.

So yes, I may need to rest more than the average human from time to time. Yes, I am an adult who has regular (and scheduled) naps and yes, even though I am only 25 sometimes I have to miss out on fun stuff because my body physically just can’t do it that day. But that is ok!

I am also a warrior! I am also fighting my own immune system every single day! I am strong, even on my weak days!

-A

Link between childhood trauma and autoimmune diseases?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the link between childhood trauma and stress related disorders (post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc) and Multiple Sclerosis.

According to numerous studies throughout the years there is significant evidence that persons who experienced childhood trauma or prolonged stress and anxiety as a child were at a remarkably higher risk for autoimmune disease. These studies are ongoing and are still working out exactly how and why this happens in the body.

Those of you who have read my story you will know that I was abused as a teen by an older man who I met through community theater. Luckily, my family fought tooth and nail for years to keep me from completely slipping away into the clutches of this monster, and eventually it paid off. I was able to make the decision to end my “relationship” with him and remove him from my life.

But those years left scars on me emotionally. I was always an anxious child and started treatment for my anxiety and depression at a young age (around 15 or 16). But after the mistreatment and trauma caused by this man my anxiety only got worse.

A few years ago I stared experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, severe levels of anxiety, panic attacks and other unpleasant symptoms. I started seeing a psychiatrist and going to regular therapy. Through this I was diagnosed with PTSD. It was only about three years later that I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

It is somewhat amazing to think about what a powerful impact stress and trauma can have on the body, even years later. Not just emotionally, but manifesting itself into physical illnesses, and in some cases, autoimmune diseases.

When I first discovered this information I was MAD. I was mad at the man who abused me for all of those years. He took so many things from me. My childhood, my innocence, my trust, my confidence and independence and so much more. But now, to learn that years later my health is now leaving me too and it could be linked to the trauma he caused me…

But the longer I have sat with this information the more my anger has slowly ebbed away. By no means do I forgive what that man did to me. It is unforgivable and to quote my girl Kesha;

Some things only god can forgive.” – Praying, Kesha

However, I do not harbor as much anger and resentment towards him as I once did. The struggles and the pain that I endured because of him shaped me into the woman who I am today. I learned to be strong and to shape my own opinions, I learned to be true to myself because I am enough, I learned the importance and the constant love of my family, I learned that I will never let anyone control me or push me around ever again.

They were hard lessons and took me years to finally start addressing, but now that I have I have found a peace that can only be described as liberating.

I do not want to live with hate in my life. I do not want to live in the past. I do not want to live resenting someone for their crimes against me. I have a good life. Even with PTSD, Anxiety, and Multiple Sclerosis I would say I have it pretty damn good.

I have a husband who not only loves, cares, and understands me…he is my best friend too. I have a family that is my rock, always there to support me and to lean on. I have a wonderful dog who keeps me on my toes and makes me laugh every day. I have a beautiful home with my own little garden and plants and I get to share it with Sparrow Mom and her family too!

(Brief update on Sparrow Mom. I know ya’ll care A LOT. Since she moved out, her three babes have made the great leap of life and taken wing. I could not be more proud of them. Bravo little birds, bravo. The nest is currently unoccupied, despite my daily real-estate efforts. Not to mention the multiple phone calls and coffee dates I had with a robin that seemed very interested…ANYWAYS I have a new friend in my backyard oasis and his name is Mr. Toad. More on him later.)

So I take this newfound information regarding my past (and how it could still be affecting my body in the present) and I am choosing to look at it not as painful reminder of things that once were, but as a positive sign for the future.

This research means that we are making progress in understanding these very mysterious diseases. And understanding is the first step towards finding a cure or a way to prevent them!

It is also a reminder of how impactful stress can be. We know that stress can trigger a relapse with Multiple Sclerosis. So now, more than ever, it is so very important for me to practice mindfulness, tackle my problems one day at a time, and take time to breathe and just relax!

No matter where you are in your life I encourage you to take a moment today to think of a few things you are grateful for, take a couple of minutes to just let yourself relax and enjoy those things, and take a few calming deep breaths. It’s a good day to let go of a little stress!

-A

 

Stronger than you think.

This weekend I tackled something that I have been dreading ever since I got sick last fall. I went to a big social event and I stayed the whole time! On top of that, I had so much fun!

My husband and I attended our friends’ wedding this weekend. Leading up to the day I was pretty nervous. This would be my first big “social outing” pretty much since my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis last fall.

Even before my diagnosis I would always get a little bit nervous before going to parties or events where there would be big crowds and lots of noise. Shortly after I found out I had MS my husband and I tried to go to a Timberwolves basketball game and we ended up leaving before the game even started due to me having a massive panic attack. I just couldn’t handle the noise of the crowd, the feeling of having so many people close to me, and the claustrophobia brought on by being enclosed in a building with so many people and limited exits.

Since then my social anxiety has grown more and more. What if I don’t feel well at the event, what if I need to leave but can’t find a socially acceptable way to do so? What if I push myself too hard and have another relapse? What if I have a panic attack in front of everyone? My mind just races to the worst possible scenarios, if I don’t actively work to calm myself down.

My energy levels still have not bounced back completely, so I was also uncertain as to how my body would react to an “all day” event.

But after all of that worry, I had a wonderful time with our friends and honestly didn’t feel too much fatigue/weakness the day of the wedding. I made sure that I stayed hydrated and limited my alcohol, and I kept cool by staying in the air conditioning as much as possible. I think I had so much else going on, and was focused on all of the love and joy around me that I forgot that I was even worried about “what my body could handle”.

I forgot that I had MS. That was really great feeling.

Laughing with friends, chatting with people I hadn’t seen in a while and dancing with my husband just filled my heart with so much positivity and happiness.

Now don’t get me wrong, my big weekend didn’t come without some price to pay. I am pretty sure I slept the entire day on Sunday, only waking up to eat and go to the bathroom. This morning I was pretty exhausted still. But I listened to my body and took a nice little morning nap (is that even a thing?). Slowly but surely, I can feel my energy coming back to me.

Even though MS does limit me physically at times, I am learning how to balance this disability and my life. I am learning that sometimes it is worth it to use a little more energy for a special occasion, I just need to plan on having a couple of “rest days” afterwards to allow myself to recover.

Multiple Sclerosis makes life more difficult, that is for sure. But it also has pushed me to realize that I am stronger than I ever knew I was. I can face the things that scare me and come out the other side smiling.

I am working on continuing to express myself and my emotions/experiences through creative outlets. Today I tried singing for the first time in a long time. It felt so good! I will say that I was surprised how tired just singing a few songs made me, but it was worth it!

I thought that a cover of “Titanium” expressed perfectly how I am feeling about my MS right now. It’s tough, I am fighting every day, but I am strong.

 

Am I out of the woods yet?

Summer is officially in full swing and I feel like I am on the up and up! I am finally starting to feel better after what felt like a month-long bout of the flu! In actuality, it is likely that I was experiencing some initial side effects from my Glatiramer Acetate injections.

I am now a little over a month into the injections and I am feeling truly blessed that some of my pain and fatigue has eased up! It’s perfect timing because my husband and I are about to get started on a busy summer of weddings, our own wedding planning, and summer road trips!

I am still having a little anxiety about how unpredictable MS is. I worry that I will have a sudden flare up on a day with an important event or during a trip! The “what if’s” that come along with this disease are exhausting.

What I need to do is stop worrying about the future and just enjoy my now! In the words of another one of my favorite wizards;

“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.” – Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

As summer has started to heat up and I get ready for more and more outdoor activities and plans I have really been interested in getting a cooling vest. Heat is one of the most difficult triggers for my MS. Just twenty minutes outside on a 75-80+ degree day and my fatigue spikes exponentially. I get nauseous, dizzy, and weak. It really doesn’t take much exposure to the heat to leave me feeling like a rag doll with the stomach flu.

Usually my symptoms subside very quickly after cooling myself back down to a normal body temperature. So far I do that by seeking out air conditioning, drinking lots of water and using a cool neck wrap (one of those things that you put in the freezer).

The issue I am running into is that sometimes I want to go to a party or concert or wedding and not being rocking an ever so fashionable ice pack around my neck…I mean I’m all for accessorizing…but maybe not with that.

I have read a few blogs and lots of reviews about cooling vests made specifically for people with MS that can go under your clothes. I want one!!! I am looking into insurance coverage for one of the Thermacool under the clothing vests.

It makes me so excited and happy to know that there are tools out there than can make my daily life a little easier!

Overall, I am feeling like the winds have shifted and things are flowing through my life with a bit more positivity and ease! I want to keep that going!

Even though the past month has been difficult, I made it through. It is a sense of accomplishment to know that I have gotten back up after MS has knocked me down AGAIN! I may not be back to 100% or even 75% but I am getting there!

I know this won’t be my last battle with MS, but the small victories feel good! And feeling my body begin to bounce back feels even better!

Keep the positive thoughts going in your lives and positivity will manifest itself from within you!

-A

5 Facts About My Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. It affects over 40 million adults a year just in the U.S. alone.

The sad part is that well under 50% of people with anxiety seek treatment for it.

Anxiety is very different from simply feeling anxious. Everyone feels anxious at times in their life. It is completely normal and healthy to feel anxious before a big test, a job interview or airplane flight. Anxiety is your body’s way of taking care of you. It’s way of saying “Hey! This could be “dangerous”. We should be careful!” It’s a primal instinct that we all use to this day. The issue arises when you cannot shut off that anxious feeling after the test is over and the flight has landed long ago. It becomes an issue when day-to-day things like making a phone call or riding in a car send you into a panic attack. It becomes an issue when you are no longer in control of your life, anxiety is.

There are different types of anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Attack Disorder, and Social Anxiety are just a few of the most common.

There is a sort of taboo around mental illness. I do think that our society has made some very positive steps forward regarding shining a light on mental health issues and taking away some of the stigma around it. We need to talk about it. We cannot ignore our mental health any longer.

I remember, way back in my freshman year of high school, a classmate of mine confided in me that she was going to kill herself that night. She made me promise not to tell anyone and said she would hate me forever if I did.

I confided in my best friend and we were so scared for this girl that we knew we couldn’t keep this secret. We told the crisis help group at our high school. The next class period the classmate who had confided in me was taken out of the classroom by a counselor. She did not kill herself, but she did keep her promise to hate me from that point forward.

I was absolutely wracked with guilt. I felt like I had broken someone’s trust and done something wrong. I recall talking to a priest about it at one point soon after. He said something that has stuck with me my whole life. He said;

“There is nothing bad about what you did. Evil thrives in darkness. What you did was shine a light on it so it could not thrive anymore. Sometimes shining a light is all you can do.”

So I have continued to try to shine a light on mental illness. For too long it has thrived in the darkness, hidden in the shadows and only spoken about in hushed tones. Well, times up. Not anymore.

5 Facts About My Anxiety 

  1. My anxiety makes me physically ill. Anxiety doesn’t always manifest in the “classic” way that one would think it would. For me my symptoms of anxiety can range from trouble breathing, shaking, shivering, flushing, nausea, headaches, vomiting, inability to focus, panic attacks and more.
  2. My anxiety makes me flakey. This is something I really do not like about my anxiety. I absolutely hate that there is a fear inside me that is powerful enough to make me want to cancel on things I want to do. I have been working on this a lot lately. Having a chronic illness, I am constantly having to check in with myself to see if my symptoms are from MS or Anxiety. I can usually tell, it’s funny, I can actually tell the difference between an anxiety stomach ache and an actual stomach flu stomach ache. When I feel sick from it I try to acknowledge to myself that what I am feeling is anxiety and that is OK. Acknowledging it is half the battle.
  3. My anxiety makes me lash out. I am not proud of this. Sometimes I will not even realize that my anxiety is bubbling up inside me, coming dangerously close to boiling over. Then someone will ask an innocent question, or my dog will bark to try to get my attention and I will snap and say something with a sharp tone, or make some snarky response. I immediately feel guilt and know that I am not really angry at that person, or mad at my dog. I am anxious and, like a wounded animal trapped in a corner, I have lashed out. Then, I have to remind myself that I can leave that corner whenever I want to. Anxiety is not in control of my actions, I am. 
  4. I see two doctors, take 4 medications and meditate daily to help manage my anxiety. I cannot emphasize enough how important my mental health care team has been to me. They have helped me navigate and understand my illness. They have given me coping strategies and techniques to help me during panic attacks. They have made me realize I am not at all alone in this fight. My psychiatrist has helped me navigate that difficult world of finding the right medications for my body chemistry to help me find balance. If you suffer from a mental illness and have not talked to someone about it please reach out to your local crisis hotline. They can help direct you to a licensed therapist or psychiatrist in your area to get you the help you need. You do not have to fight this alone. You are not alone!
  5. I am not ashamed of my anxiety. Yes, it is a part of my life (sometimes a very big part) but it does not define me. I talk about my anxiety so publicly because I know there are people out there, silently suffering, and they need to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. They need to know that there is a rainbow at the end of the storm. They need to know that help is out there, all you have to do is ask.

Please, reach out to your loved ones. Check in with them and make sure they are doing ok. If you are feeling anxious or depressed or just “off” tell someone! If you don’t feel like you have someone you can tell, reach out to your local crisis hotline.

You are not alone. You are worth it. You are stronger than you know. Together we can shine a light on mental illness and help each other find the help that we need! Stand strong, warrior.

-A

 

Dear MS…

Dear Multiple Sclerosis,

We’ve been seeing each other for quite a few months now, but I know it is just the beginning of our relationship. When we first met I didn’t know much about you. I had heard your name before but never really given you much thought. But then you showed up one morning and changed my life forever.

You brought with you some of your not so pleasant friends. You know the ones I am talking about…numbness, tingling, lesions, burning, dizziness, and fatigue to name a few. You introduced me to steroid infusions, injections and MRI’s. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of those guys either.

You scared me more than I have ever been frightened before. You make me feel weak. You make me feel sick. You make me feel isolated and anxious. You took away my trust in my body.

You’ve been a tough pill to swallow. I’ve hated you, been bruised for you, and miss out on fun things for you, when you demanded it.

But I have not given in to you. I won’t ever stop fighting you. You may be a part of me now, but you are not what makes me me. 

Despite your efforts, I have stood back up each time you’ve knocked me down. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I was. You have taught me take my body seriously. To listen when it’s signaling to me that something is off. To focus on the positive more than the negative.

I have learned that even on my sickest days, I have people around me who will support and care for me. That I am never alone. I have learned that the power of love will shine bright enough to light up even the darkest of nights and frighten away even the most ghoulish of nightmares. I have learned to be courageous, even when I don’t want to be.

I have learned to take things a little slower and enjoy each minute. To stop and appreciate the everyday things and the beauty all around me. I have learned to love more fiercely, to be more quick to forgiveness and slow to anger. I have gained a compassion for life and the miracle that it is!

So in the end…I cannot hate you. For what use would that be? I’ve chosen to grow, rather than sit still. I’ve chosen to be inspired, rather than be afraid. I have chosen to fight. My life is still my life.

Sincerely,

Mrs. MS Strong