I groaned inwardly as my phone died. The sterile, medical smell of the Emergency Room was making me nauseated as I closed my eyes to the harsh fluorescent lights. This was my third ER visit in two weeks. The previous stops culminated in a guess of a pinched nerve in my shoulder. I knew it was more.
This was a different hospital so when they started running tests and MRIs, I became anxious. Reading and music calm me; when my phone died, panic set in full force. Luckily, when I got back from the MRI, the nurse had charged my phone. Shortly after delving back into a favorite book, a doctor came in.
“You have multiple sclerosis.” He said without preamble.
It was like a movie when everything gets quiet and rushes in toward you. As the world settled back in around me, a fierce calm coupled with grim determination overwhelmed my being.
“Ok.” I said. Although I didn’t know what I was saying okay to.
I closed the Kindle app on my phone and googled this new aspect of my life.
It was clear that this would be hard. It meant that my life would change, even if only during episodes. One thing it didn’t and couldn’t change was me. I am still who I was yesterday, I just have multiple sclerosis now.
As I told my family, I repeated my new mantra untold times. “I’ve got this” is what I say a lot now, and I use it as a hash tag on Twitter. “I’ve got this” means it’s hard, it’s frightening, it’s big, it’s heavy, BUT it is within my ability to manage. I have that power.
There are very few things I can control right now. I was diagnosed three weeks ago and I’m in the midst of an episode so literally there isn’t much I can manage when it comes to my body. What I CAN control is my mindset and the way I look at the situation.
I have my moments, sometimes days, when I cry, scream, throw things, rail against the heavens, but that ends abruptly once the need for those things have passed. I don’t want to wallow in the muck because these early days set precedence for what is to come.
This is going to be a lifelong journey. MS is now a part of my life and it forever will be. I’ve got some good walking shoes and yummy snacks for the hike. I’m ready.
When were you diagnosed? How do you handle it initially?
Maria Thomas was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in April of 2015 and will be documenting her journey with a monthly column on Modern Day MS. She has a wonderfully supportive wife, two dogs and lives in New Orleans.