Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne’s son recently was diagnosed with MS. What’s the worst about that disease? Its arbitrary course. One never knows how the disease will affect him or her. So, the Osbourne’s are pretty much all in a state of shock.
I do know how they feel, for I’m one of those diagnosed with that disease.
It happened about 4 years ago. My older daughter and husband were visiting and had brought their kids—3 little ones—for a several day visit and we were all enjoying the time together. Only problem? My leg developed this strange problem and I began limping.
I thought I pulled a muscle from sitting with the littlest one on my lap, then getting up with him as added weight in the “Don’t lift something wrong” category. I was sure the “cramp” would go away.
But it didn’t, so I sought the help of a neurologist. After a battery of tests, he gave me the verdict: I’ve got MS.
An MRI scan showed plaques (yep, it’s plural) in my thorax, brain, and spinal region (and I thought plaque only happened on teeth.) But, if the truth be told, I wasn’t really surprised.
Climbing stairs or going up any incline has been a problem for me, for years.
Many years ago I took my kids on a 5-country European, back-packing expedition. They were 16 and 6 at the time. It was a pretty punishing physical ordeal with us hopping on and off trains, en route to different countries.
What did I notice most? That people who were not in as good physical condition as I (I’d been a daily walker for years) mounted the steps of monuments and tourist sites far better than I did. They weren’t stopping to rest; their breathing wasn’t labored.
I had to step aside, frequently, allowing them to pass. I never bothered checking it out because the problem never worsened.
That’s why my neurologist suspects I’ve had it for years.
He thinks my first bout occurred when I was about 25. I told him I recall standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, hanging onto the sides of the sink to steady myself, since my legs were so wobbly.
That weakness went on for months and it prompted me to seek serious medical help.
Doctors checked me out. I even had a spinal tap to see if I had a brain tumor, but tests showed nothing (MS was notoriously difficult to diagnose, before the equipment they use today that shows plaque build-up.)
I even wondered if my affliction were psychosomatic, prompted by difficult personal issues at the time.
But when those bouts never worsened over the years, I just began to believe: That’s just the way my body is; I have pronounced weakness in the legs. I’ll never do marathons. It’s not terrible if nothing progresses.
In other words, I live with my affliction.
You see, I’ve gotten to know my body and accept its limitations without obsessing. It’s the same way with what I call my “stigmata.” These are the crazy red bands that crop up at pressure points all over my upper torso whenever my body is fighting some infection (viral). No one knows why they happen; they just do.
They made a dramatic appearance at a few surgeries I’ve had in the past, wreaking havoc in the surgical chamber where doctors feared I was reacting (allergically) to the anesthesia. They stressed on what to do. Now, I just tell them ahead of time what will no doubt happen: My body will begin to tell them it doesn’t like what’s happening, but it’s no real problem; I’m not going to go into shock (which is what they fear.)
But it took me years to realize a comfort level with my own body and its idiosyncrasies.
To date, I’ve had pneumonia on several occasions, breast cancer requiring mastectomy, MS, and I’m still here. Any of those could have killed me in an earlier era.
Today, I don’t wake up and wonder “Where is it (the cancer) today?” And I don’t obsess (mostly) about how MS might progress.
What could have killed me more than any of those that I’ve mentioned? Fear….with its sidekick paralysis. If I lived my life anticipating all the bad that could (and, in some cases, did) happen, then I’d face a death verdict, for that despondency would sap my energy.
Instead, I ‘do life’ one day at a time…relishing each day.
And that’s probably the best motivation for me to live productively, for I don’t have the luxury of wasting time.
Now, here’s a site that can tell you some of the symptoms/signs of MS but,of course, it’s always best to consult doctors if you suspect you might have this disease. At least, today, diagnosis is easier. And here’s another site from MS Society that will show you why, even today, the diagnosis is just so very difficult to make.
How do you fight through the fears? Are you battling serious health problems? Do share your secret to staying positive and comment anonymously if you choose…