The road well traveled

It’s always nice when people see positive changes in you, especially when they took a long time to manifest. A famous quote goes that “happiness is a journey, not a destination” and there is definitely some truth in that.

Despite a few minor setbacks on a health level, I’ve sailed through my main illness this year without hospital stays or urgent medical care. As I’m writing this blog post I am balancing an ice pack between the back of my head and the couch to numb a headache and eye pain, and aside from a few bouts of major fatigue and nerve pains throughout the year, I am now, I believe, in the best physical state since quitting my job in December 2009. The fatigue, neuropathic pains, forgetfulness and tremors are still here, but I’ve become accustomed to them.

Three years of rest, relaxation and sleep is a long time to get used to the physical state of having MS and of being at home every day, there’s no denying that, but accepting an incurable and degenerative illness in your life is not something that is supposed to happen overnight. I now realize I pushed myself into self acceptance while I was still employed, but this kind of false agreement seemed futile against what was still to come.

Safe to say that there is no way to “get healthy” with an ill central nervous system; what you can do is try to get “healthier” by reducing existing symptoms and ward off new ones, but brain and spinal cord lesions don’t just disappear. They’re here to stay. For that reason I heard many times before that my path in life would be “a learning curve,” but being gung-ho about being diagnosed only lead to disappointment after disappointment on the work front because I kept going on and off sick leave many times over.

Seven years and 8 months after being diagnosed, and almost 3 years to the day since quitting work, I had a good look at who I was, what I was and how I am. The view wasn’t always nice, but perfect people do not exist. They can only be found in the form of Barbie dolls in toy stores.

Acknowledging the results ended up being a breakthrough in feeling better and it lead to no more dancing to the tunes of other people and myself. If I’m not feeling well, sorry but no can do. If I feel I will end up worse than before, sorry once again but still no can do. I’m my own chief of my mental and physical schedule now, and by god it is a pleasure to be so. I’ve done what I needed to do in a time frame that fitted me.

Unknowingly I was travelling a path to long-lasting happiness and it hit me a few weeks ago: I am now I where I’m supposed to be in life. It’s a funny feeling because I cannot point out one deciding factor that lead to feeling this way; it’s been a yearlong transition. I’ve blogged about personal growth last month and even in those few weeks in between then and now, there’s been an odd feeling of peace (

But this was not all my doing: I’m surrounded by a brilliant bunch of people so I especially want to thank my GP because he has been instrumental in keeping tabs on my health; my other healthcare professionals like my 2 MS nurses, neurologists, eye doctors, massage therapists, the HSE and the MS Society all lend a helping hand.

Obviously my mum is another person who always jumps in when I’m in need of a kind, loving word and so does the rest of my family. Everyone else, you know who you are… thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For Christmas I wish them lots of love, happiness and health. For myself? A day without pain would be nice but I’m not that demanding!

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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