3 Things I Want to Tell the Young Woman Just Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis
I know. The doctor has just left the room. Your stomach is churning. You’re confused. Your mind is racing. Tests have just confirmed that an unexpected hurdle has just forced its way into your life — uninvited and definitely unwelcome. You have just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
According to the doctor, this neurological disease will be part of your life forever. There is no cure. Yet how it will impact your life is unknown. The frequency and severity of relapses are unclear. The brochures show pictures of walking sticks and wheelchairs. You’re wondering is this now an unescapable reality? Such questions go unanswered. As you will learn with MS, there are no definitive answers.
I hear your confusion. The prognosis makes no sense. You’ve always been so healthy. And why now? As a 22-year-old, life is just beginning. You have just graduated from college and are embarking on a new career. Life is carefree. You’re living in the city and embracing a busy social life.
And what of your plans and dreams for the future? Yesterday they inspired you. Today they taunt you. How could dreams of overseas holidays, a fulfilling career and buying your own home ever come to fruition given that your future is now unknown. You are overcome by despondency; there is no hope.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, I want to yell out stop! I have gained invaluable “insider information,” which will allay these fears, ease your anxiety and reintroduce hope into your life. For example, I would encourage you to:
1. Stay in the moment.
Fight the urge to race ahead. What’s the point of imagining every possible catastrophe, which may or may not be part of your future?
2. Know the intensity of emotions you’re feeling right now will lessen.
No need to make any rash decisions; wait for the storm to pass. You will regroup and be ready for the next challenge ahead with a clear mind and heart.
3. Keep dreaming.
Dreams will create the momentum needed to move beyond the frustration of MS.
I also need to be up front, since there will be challenging times ahead. The disconnect between mind and body will be frightening at times. Legs unable to move, vision blurred and hands non-functioning.
But you will get through these moments. You will discover strengths you had been oblivious to. And these challenges will demand your evolution and growth — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Hearing this news today has been tough. But I implore you to keep going. And as an incentive here’s a sneak preview of what awaits…
Living in Scotland for a year, volunteering with children with special needs in Romania, retraining as a social worker, moving to the beach and having your life partner literally walk into your life forever.
I know! So hold on and be inspired by this information. Today you received some devastating news. But MS doesn’t signify the end. This new journey will be filled with incredible experiences. And today I am genuinely excited about the unimagined possibilities that will be part of both of our futures.
Embrace the unknown,
Teisha (now 40!)
Follow this journey on Lives Interrupted.