Reaching 2010 is a milestone... a marker in my journey. I've been looking back over the past 10 years. They have been years of change... there has been fear, joy, sadness, faith, loss, miracles. I want to share about some.
Ten years ago, the year 2000. Life was pretty good... then in June came the news that I'd both feared and expected. "You have Multiple Sclerosis." My mom and I sat without speaking for a moment. I asked the usual questions. What is the next step? How bad will this get? Are there treatments? The neurologist went through everything step by step... yearly MRI's, injections, the exacerbations, possible results; blindness, loss of kidney and bowel function, becoming paralyzed, loss of mental acuity, the list went on. While we sat and listened, I held the terror inside. I know my mom did too. We made plans for the next visit, politely said our goodbyes and headed for the car. Somewhere in the lobby I felt my breath catch in my throat, mom reached for my hand and the tears came. Not the loud sobbing kind. The quietly streaming tears, pain in the chest and throat, unable to take a breath or to speak kind. "It will be ok." mom said through her own tears. That was the beginning. There were more trials to come. More losses.
A lot of what happened in the past 10 years is a blank page to me. I don't really know if it was due to the MS affecting my concentration, or if it was a signal that the stress had gotten to be too much.
Illness and loss are things so many families deal with. I bounced back and forth from being plagued with fear and "what ifs" to being in a place of complete faith and peace. Right now, I am listening to Mahalia Jackson singing "Take My Hand Precious Lord". As always, I am struck by how much her singing reminds me of my Grandmother's singing. It's one of those small things that lift my spirit.
I am now on a search for the missing memories of the last 10 years. I've been combing photographs and letters. I'm finding the joyful moments that had somehow faded into obsolescence for me. In ten years, there were heartaches, but there was also great joy. Even as I look at my journey with MS, I see hope. There was a point where I had to be helped to stand. The dizziness and muscle spasms required me to use a walker. I progressed from the walker to a cane, and then one day I was able to lay the cane aside. Recently, a few symptoms have returned which require some use of the cane again, but still I rejoice. I am nowhere near as disabled as was predicted. Some of the "white spots" on my brain disappeared and the newer ones were very small. I know some of this is medicine, but I believe that much of it was due to faith and prayer.
As I reach my ten year milestone in June, I will remind myself that loss is part of living. I will remember the joys I was privileged to share. My focus is on living each day. When I do look toward the future, I do it with eyes of faith and it looks bright.
Copyright February 01, 2010 ajj