“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” ~ Napoleon Hill
The same place MS grows in my body is the same place my courage exists. Where my power originates. Where my strength dwells. MS controls the dark parts of my life. And sometimes those thoughts seep over to my bright side. Penetrating the layers of my happiness and making me noticeably indifferent about everything. When this happens, I give the impression of not caring or trying.
The other morning, my husband was helping me get dressed to start my day. Well, saying he was helping me is pretty generous. I was doing nothing and he was doing everything.
He asked me what I wanted to wear and I said it didn’t matter. So he picked out my clothes, he applied lotion to my arms and legs, dressed me and even combed my hair. The last thing he did was to place my shoes on my feet. As he was tying my laces, I guess the apathetic vibe I was giving off was too much. So from his knees he looked me in my eyes and suddenly announced, “Nicole, I can’t care more than you. I’ll meet you half way but I’m not doing it all. I can accept when you are not able to do something. But I can’t accept when you don’t even try.”
At the time, I didn’t know what to say. My MS brain has lost its quick thinking abilities. But after some thought I finally told him this.
“I promise you. I’m still trying. I’m not giving up. It’s just hard. It’s so very hard. Sometimes my circumstance distracts and overpowers me. I become fixated by what’s happening inside my body. Staying focused on daily task becomes a challenge. Being present is a challenge. Hell, just making it through the day without falling apart is a challenge.
Some days I spend all my time trying not to cry. Like when my left hand suddenly stops working. Or when I’m so tired I can barely sit up straight. Then I look at the clock and its only 3pm and I still need to function for the rest of the day.
I know it’s hard to understand because I’m really not suffering. Everyone can relate to pain. But I am not suffering. I’m struggling. It gets confusing because I have both noticeable and inconspicuous problems. Empathy comes easy for the visible symptoms because they are relatable. But unless you have MS, the invisible symptoms are hard to comprehend. Which make them hard to relate to.
I promise, I’m not doing it on purpose. I just need you to remind me to stay involved. And even when I seem to be giving up on myself, please don’t give up on me.”