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Realizing I Am Pollyanna as I Take On Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis affects every part of my life: physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual. The most common emotional issue is depression. In addition to keeping stress at a minimum, one of the most important components of recovery is my attitude. It sometimes takes a serious effort to keep a positive attitude, especially on the shittiest of days.

I have been complimented on my attitude on dealing with TM, and I appreciate it very much. But there are days when I’m not so sunny – some days, the nerve pain, the fatigue and the frustration of not being able to do the things I could before (walking is at the top of the list), make it miserable. And I want to be honest, not just pretend I’m great all of the time. Some days, I’m not OK… and I know that’s going to happen. A lot. And it’s OK. You appreciate the good days, get through the shitty days and keep going.

Focusing on the positive things going on with my progress, and other parts of my life, is key. Even the littlest improvements are victories. Staying awake all day is a victory (for me, at least). Cooking a meal, which can take 10 times longer than before, is a victory. Appreciate the people in your life who care about you and support you. These are all positive things. And it’s important to appreciate them.

I do not want to come across as someone who is unrealistically positive, however, because, of course, there are the not-o-great days. And I don’t want to be perceived as someone who is out of touch with reality. Like Pollyanna.

I’m not Pollyanna.

In my head, Pollyanna is the book character who is outrageously positive — all of the time. An overboard level of positive and very unrealistic in her outlook. I do not want to be who I assumed Pollyanna was – a girl who thinks everything is great, all of the time.

So I Googled “Pollyanna” just to be sure I was characterizing her correctly. (I’m sure I must have read this book in some point of my academic career, but it was a long time ago.)

Well, thank you, Universe, for giving me a laugh and schooling me.

Turns out — I am Pollyanna and didn’t even know it until today.

Besides her cheery outlook, do you know what happened to her? She was in an accident, and… wait for it… loses the use of her legs. I do not remember that part of the story.

One summary of the story I read stated this about her, after her accident: “At first she doesn’t realize the seriousness of her situation, but her spirits plummet when she is told what happened to her… Then the townspeople begin calling her… to let Pollyanna know how much her encouragement has improved their lives; and Pollyanna decides she can still be glad that she at least has her legs…She learns to walk again, and is able to appreciate the use of her legs far more, as a result of being temporarily disabled and unable to walk.”

Oh. My. God. I did not see that coming. It stopped me in my tracks. Of all of the fictional characters I could compare myself to (and claim I am not), it’s Pollyanna? I think God has a great sense of humor and wanted my attention. He got it.

So, yes, I am Pollyanna. And guess what? It’s a good thing, and I’m very proud of it. Give that girl a cape and a mask because she’s now my hero.

Follow this journey on Lynda’s Recovery.

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Thinkstock image by Tayy ART