Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Way Things Are

Most of us quickly get used to a certain process in our lives where our health is concerned. From childhood on, there is this common, reliable pattern: We become ill and then we regain our health. That's just the way it works. It's always that way. You get the flu, you suffer for some days, and then you get well again. You break a bone, and then you need to nurse the injury for a while, but before you know it, the thing is only a memory. Renewal, for the majority of people, is simply a given, and you do not doubt that renewal will always proceed from injury.

Until it doesn't, that is. 

With a disease like multiple sclerosis, one finds himself facing a new order, a new reality. Or, rather, one finds himself not facing it, because it is not in harmony with the order one knows so well as part of the experience of his life. Now things have changed. Something happens and one automatically awaits resolution, renewal. But the days drag on, then the months, and you finally realize that this disease, this reality, is not behaving in accordance with what you have always experienced in the past. Your foot goes numb, it stays numb. Your hand goes numb, it stays numb. You become confused. You stay confused. There is no restoration. There is no pill to fix the thing. There is no operation. There is no therapy that will undo the deficit. 

This is a very hard thing to learn. It is not something one wants to learn. In fact, it has taken me seven months to acknowledge that the aching and stiffness in my neck and right shoulder blade is not going to be coaxed away with medicine or exercise or massage or meditation or even with time. It is permanent. Even now, that is a very hard word to say, for it is so ... well, so permanent. It is hard, very hard indeed, to release the hope that you will heal, that you will return to the status quo, that what you're facing now is not a matter of injury, but of destruction. This is the disease, MS. 

You build around what is left. Curing is no longer in the cards. Coping is what remains. 

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