Today, I forgot to set my alarm and overslept. No big deal, right?! Not unless you’re a person with Multiple Sclerosis that has already missed far too much on account of her disease; then oversleeping is a mistake worse than plagiarizing Chaucer. And why did I oversleep? I fear it’s because I’m suffering from a bit of depression. My Multiple Sclerosis has been pretty active for the last year and a half, and so many times I’ve felt like giving up. As a matter of fact, I feel like giving up today, but instead I’m gonna lay these bones bare and share my personal struggle; a struggle I share with my partner-in-disease and inspiring friend, Denise; a struggle I share with the son of one of my favorite professors; and now, a struggle I share with you.
Basically, Multiple Sclerosis is an immunological disease in which the immune system attacks the body, specifically the brain and spinal cord. The immune system attacks the myelin sheath protecting the brain and exposes the underlying nerves to damage; physical, mental, and emotional impairment can occur based on the area of the brain under attack (i.e. temporal lobe attack can manifest in the inability to control voluntary movements, whereas frontal lobe attack will manifest in cognitive malfunctions).
Right now, I’m experiencing a bit of cognitive malfunction (okay, a lot of cognitive malfunction), and it’s throwing me for a loop. On good days, I frantically search for the sunglasses on my head, the keys in my hand, and the water bottle in the crook of my arm; on bad days, I desperately search for the names of the people I love, the month I’m in or day I’m on, and the things I need to get done. I’m constantly late, because I forget my keys and lock myself outta my house, or I forget my backpack or my medicine or the homework I printed off or something else equally important and utterly forgettable. I’ve forgotten my electric bill so many times I feel like I should have another child just to name it after my electric man, and I’ve forgotten my water bill so many times the office staff knows me by name and expects my panicked call within 2 days after the shut-off date (they recently started offering direct debit, and I can’t help but wonder if I may have had some small part in that). I constantly worry that I’ll need a location implant so that I can be located when I’ve wondered off to the park in my underwear and rain boots.
I have fatigue that hits me like a punch in the face, making me leave greatly anticipated poetry readings before I fall asleep like a drunk after a binge; I twitch so bad sometimes, I feel like I’m doing the robot - and doing it really well; I get night sweats that leave an Amber-shaped spot on the bed and have me waking up shivering like a Polar Bear Club member after an arctic dip; my muscles will spasm so bad they cut off the circulation to my extremities and give me headaches that induce vomiting – this often leads me to weep and hug the toilet while I pray for an end to the pain, by medication or by death. Good stuff, eh?!
Well, no one ever said life would be easy, right?! We all have our crosses to bear; what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger; and tomorrow will be a better day. Ugh, clichés aren’t even worth the time to type them. You wanna know the truth? Life is hard; you may get struck by a disease, by a truck (same difference, really), or by some other unforeseen circumstance, and you’re gonna feel sorry for yourself, and you’re not gonna wanna get outta bed, and you’re gonna feel like it’s all an exercise in futility. But then the ones you love will go out of their way to make you smile; a fellow MS fighter will catch you in the hallway and give you a hug and tell you she understands (and you know she really does); friends will call and text to coax you back into the world with random “I love yous”; and a little darling named Jessica will come up to you at a poetry event and tell you that she reads all of your articles. And after all of that, you’ll suddenly remember, “Hey, I can do this. I’m a writer; misery is fodder. And I am wasting time.”