In the summer of 2014, I was a lawyer, wife and Mom to a beautiful 4 year old girl and adorable newborn son. Life was seemingly perfect…although, I was way too caught up in the details of life to appreciate it back then.
During my parental leave, I agreed to return to work to deal with an intensely stressful situation that lasted much longer than anticipated. When I re-commenced my parental leave, I got sick multiple times. When I say sick, I mean big, ugly flu bugs. One after another. In fact, five times in a month. That’s when the numbness started. It culminated one night in September, when I woke up to discover the right side of my body stopped working. It was two in the morning and I certainly didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I hopped into my car and somehow drove myself to the hospital. My mind was racing. Was I having a stroke? Was it cancer? Was it ALS? According to Doctor Google, it was all of the above and possibly rabies.
I wish I could tell you I got my clear answer after that September night. While I have ruled out the biggies mentioned above ( including rabies), I am still living in the grey area of the unknown. Since 2014, I have had bouts of weird symptoms. Numbness, cognitive fuzziness, muscle fatigue etc. Several MRIs have also confirmed lesions on my brain that ‘looks’ like MS. However, I am still in the group they call ‘possible MS’ and only time and space will tell.
So, there I stood with major uncertainty that would likely last for the foreseeable future. So, I had two choices: 1) give in to the deep depression that desperately wanted to take hold; or 2) find some meaning in the grey area. I’ll be honest, option 1 was pretty appealing. I had a good month-long pity party and quite frankly, have little memory of that period ( I hereby retroactively apologize to my clients).
However, I snapped out of it. I had to. I had two little people who needed me to get my s#*t together. So, I started working out, running (in fact, marathons) and fundamentally altered my diet. My body started responding in amazing ways and I dropped a solid thirty pounds. However, I still couldn’t get a handle on my mental health. I have always been riddled with anxiety. However, for the first time, my anxiety was now being manifested in physical symptoms. Once I realized the correlation, which took an embarrassingly long time to do, I started with an amazing pychotherapist who turned it all around for me and mindful meditation is a big part of my life now. I also started yoga. I am incredibly inflexible, but I have a yoga mat, so I assume I am doing good things.
I still live in the grey area, but I am now focused on my abilities and challenging my mind and body with an urgency I have never had before.
I don’t want to say I am grateful for MS. That’s not true. MS sucks. However, it has reminded me of the importance of self-care and appreciating all the amazing things my body can do today even if it works differently than yesterday.