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Having MS as a constant companion has not been the easiest of relationships I’ve ever had to endure. But I’ve worked at it 24/7 because multiple sclerosis is not something I can just walk away from. MS quite literally controls my mobility. These days, however, I think I have a healthy respect for the illness. I don’t think the same could be said for the way I allowed MS to impact many of my past close relationships.
From the time I was diagnosed, almost 40 years ago, I hurt a lot of people. I never took responsibility for a lousy attitude towards my friends and family. I had no control over MS was something I had no control over, while on the other, I had an attitude that went unchecked.
Looking back over many years - and I’m talking decades here - it was too easy for me to let multiple sclerosis take the blame for every ungrateful thing I said and did. Events could have turned out more positively for me had I taken responsibility for my actions.
The way I saw things nothing was ever my fault. After all, I had MS and boy didn’t I let everyone know about it! So self-absorbed was I that I only had one topic of conversation: me suffering from multiple sclerosis. Asking how I was doing was always a huge mistake. I never stopped sharing about my fatigue, intermittent blindness, sleeping 24/7, bowel and bladder movements – yes, even that! The MS yada yada yada was the foundation for a lonely way of life.
I was self-absorbed in an MS world. It took a very special person to help me become less belligerent and a more mindful person. That person was Lizzy who has been my wife for the past 27 years. She has helped and inspired me to adopt a more positive way of living and to moderate how much I talk about my symptoms.
These days if somebody asks how I’m feeling I say fine, even if I’m not, before moving the conversation on. When it comes down to it, nobody wants to listen to a monologue about my bodily functions!
There are times I wish I could go back to when it all began and apologize for an attitude that negatively impacted so many people. But regrets about what I can no longer change are futile. Instead I live life to the fullest each day, being as inclusive to friends and family as I can. If I’m not having a good day then that’s nobody’s business but my own and, of course, Lizzy’s, who has helped me grow into the man I am today.
This article was written by MyMSTeam member Martin as part of the Member Spotlight Series. Martin has secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and is a writer who often blogs about his experience with MS. Read Part 1 & Part 2 to Martin's story.
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