Join the club of those who not only look old but feel old also, despite an ID card saying you’re still just a twig on a young tree.
A few weeks past Christmas and New Year, you’re ready to throw out every resolution you carefully devised, despite the hope that this year your intentions will have a longer shelf life than the previous years.
In an act of emotional self-preservation, this time I’ve created another, easier to adopt strategy. In a game of semantics, I refuse to call new year’s decisions, ‘resolutions’ for hearing the word is enough to trick me into abject failure.
In secret, my list of things to achieve this year was only constructed hours before the clock struck 12 PM on December 31st. After falling asleep on the couch, my mom woke me up to say I should go to bed instead of fighting to stay awake. I swore to her I was watching the fireworks with my eyes closed, wishing that people could shout quietly instead.
Note to self: watching fireworks with eyes closed two hours before the actual display, was pure proof I needed my bed more than a few lights going ‘pop’ in the sky.
“I must work towards a new set of ears,” I thought, blissfully unaware that getting these would be a herculean feat of biomechanical engineering. No matter how much I wished to exchange one of my senses because of bouts of noise intolerance, I had to retort to the usual, “Ah, the joys of life with MS” when laughing about another one of my MS-induced naps the following day.
Knowing that my previous lists were perhaps nice to look at, they lacked staying power. This year, though, would be different. Like a bullying philistine I will try to keep myself from defeatism of the grandest sort should I turn to phrases like “Nah, New Year and I don’t mix all that well!”
All jokes aside, you might wonder where all this is going. Funnily enough, I can derive a long list of resolutions from the one thing that annoyed me most of all in 2018 aside from the relentless treatment side effects and maddening facial pain: above-mentioned noise sensitivity, or hyperacusis.
Added to this, in the back of my mind I would love to say, “Wow MS, was waking me at 3 AM because of nerve pain really the best you can do?” Similarly, I would love to add, “I am so disappointed in you, MS” but I don’t want to jinx myself.
You might also think, “What is this lady so happy about when she’s obviously in a lot of physical pain?”
Fourteen very long years of learning and eventually being able to hide physical pains well.
You see, multiple sclerosis and I, we are in a mutually acknowledged yet unpalatable form of relationship. It tries to catch me out doing things that worsen my symptoms, while I –picture Xena, Warrior Princess or Wonder Woman– take control of how it wants to trick me into falling into another relapse.
Call it hacking the MS mainframe before it goes wrong.
Call it cyberstalking after it goes wrong.
Norton Security must love me to bits.
Bettering yourself doesn’t always have to be physical because your wellbeing is not a numerical concept or project. Too often, health-related issues become mere figures in bland statistics.
It can be as easy as allowing yourself to lie down whenever your legs turn into jelly. Or, allowing yourself to fall asleep at any time of day, even when it happens every day.
Personally, I allow my awful addiction to reading run ragged, so I often tend to prioritise it around the other things I have to do during the day, and even more so because I fall asleep after reading three pages.
Books seem to come with invisible, built-in fatigue-inducers.
If after all this, you tell yourself, “I am by no means perfect, nor will I ever be,” you might just be selling yourself short.
Having MS doesn’t mean you’re worthless, incomplete, silly or selfish for prioritising yourself.
On the contrary, you know how to fight, how to listen to your body the way others cannot, and you know despite all the hassle society gives you, you are someone with self-worth, drive, fighting power as well as physical and emotional intelligence. If after today, you still sell yourself short, please read this paragraph again, and again.
And, no matter how many resolutions, hopes and downright crackpot dreams you have, just keep going at a rate that suits you, and not society. Celebrate the small victories and relish in the knowledge you become a better version of yourself every single day.
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