It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining. All of the household work is done. I have the afternoon to myself. After remembering that I have a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card from Christmas, I get a bit of extra pep in my step and decide to take a walk to the bookstore so I can get lost in the aisles of books for an hour or so. Today is all about me! The world is my oyster!
After throwing on my favorite hoodie, I head out. While on my way, suddenly, out of nowhere, some random wacko starts throwing rocks at me. Every time a rock hits my body, it causes excruciating pain. One hits my head, just above my eye. In comes another, nailing me in the leg. “Whoa! What was that for?” I yell back. Before I can confront my assassin, they are already gone from sight, nowhere to be found. I’m left frazzled and confused. So I try to continue my walk where I left off, prior to the rock throwing.
Still feeling the aftermath of pain from the recent attack, I decide to enjoy a latte at the cafe. While carefully sipping the perfectly brewed cup of love, someone punches me square in the face and then takes off running in the opposite direction. Not only am I now wearing that latte, but I can’t feel my face. I can’t even tell where my face starts and the latte ends. I think to myself, “Fantastic. I’ve been assaulted again for no reason, I’m in pain, and I can’t feel my face. And to make matters worse, I can’t even confront my attacker.”
Of course, the likelihood of the above events actually happening to me is slim to none. But living with a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis (MS) can honestly feel the exact same way. We are confronted with ghostly assassins on a daily basis that inflict physical pain and torment for no reason other than to remind us that our immune systems enjoy attacking themselves. Shooting pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations — you name it, we face it.
Apparently, our immune systems didn’t get enough love as a child or something. Maybe they need a hug. But the truth remains: We are faced with sensations that come out of nowhere and can interrupt us at any time. We can’t even see the assailant, but we endure the rocks being thrown at us.
On days when I feel like I’ve had rocks thrown at me or that it seems like I’ve been socked in the face, I’ve accepted the fact that it’s OK to feel defeated. I’ll be completely honest with other people because I don’t believe in sugarcoating life. My husband jokes that my tombstone will read “Never Sugarcoated Anything.”
But to be as real as I can be, I’m feeling pretty defeated at the moment, even as I’m writing this. However, even on days when we feel like unseen assassins are throwing rocks at us, when we lose feeling in our faces, when we’ve been through the wringer, we fight through the pain — and we’re still here. Those of us with MS are kind of awesome. We need to give ourselves some more credit.
MyMSTeam columnists discuss multiple sclerosis from a specific point of view. Columnists’ articles do not reflect the opinions of MyMSTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. MyMSTeam content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.