July 16, 2013
Normally I am a very optimistic person. Throughout my life, I dealt with many major, difficult events that required life adjustments. Going through a grieving process—denial, anger, depression, bargaining–often accompanies the life adjustments. Somehow I always managed to plow forward through the process rather quickly, restoring a positive attitude and looking for that silver lining.
People have often remarked what an inspiration I am and how well I do. But lately, not this time. I have been stuck in one of those negative spells, with a negative attitude. In April, I developed complications from a UTI, got a virus, and had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic all at the same time. The perfect storm stirred up my MS to the point that left me completely incapacitated. I was admitted into the hospital.
Fortunately, after weeks of treatment and home care therapy, the infections and sickness went away and the MS calmed down. Physically, I returned to my previous pre-relapse “normal” state. But having the weeks of downtime and being incapacitated shook me to the core. My mental and emotional state didn’t rebound so easily. Every day I got out of bed and went through the motions of life, but with no smiles or enthusiasm. I was existing without any happiness. My emotions were erratic and unpredictable. Nothing was fun or funny.
I was grieving.
I was sick of being sick of being sick and tired of being tired. Too many times over too many years of problem solving and adjusting. My mind shut down; it was hard to think, which is what I always seem to do. Think.
Everything in my life has to be planned and organized around my bathroom problems, medications, accessibility needs, physical limitations, fatigue, waiting for others to help me with something… And every thing I do takes so long to do. Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort. Everything is a production.
This coming September, I have a trip planned to Alaska. While “normal” people are looking forward to the cruise, food and excursions, I am dreading it all. I worry about embarrassing myself with a bathroom accident. Or, what will I do if I get a serious UTI, since I am resistant to oral antibiotics? I have to plan to try and prevent these things from happening. It is exasperating.
On the other side of the coin, so often I have to cancel my laborious plans because I don’t feel well, am too fatigued, maybe didn’t sleep well, require a laxative… I have to plan, but other times I can’t plan something because of some physical or accessible limitation. It drives me crazy. I can’t be spontaneous about anything.
Over the years, one reason I have kept a personal journal was to vent my sadness, stress or frustration. Here are a couple of entries made during this bad spell:
“I wish I could just have 24 hours of being a normal person with no physical problems. To sleep through the night without waking up because of a cramp, a spasm, a pain, or to have to pee. To not wake up tired after being in bed for eight hours. To sit down and pee without the hassle of using a catheter. To have a bowel movement without worrying about if I am going to go, or if I am going to get to the commode in time. To eat whatever I want without bloating, gas… To have a day with no pain, or edema. To be able to walk. To have a day when I could everything myself without waiting or depending on someone to help me. To not have to worry about changing or cancelling plans because I am too tired. To not drop things. To be able to jump in the car and drive someplace alone. “
“Life is a journey as people often say. But why is it that some people just seem to cruise through life? Sometimes I feel like I’ve been travelling on some bumpy, dirt road never knowing when an obstacle will pop up. It always does. A flat tire. A dead end. A detour. Overheated. A breakdown. Out of gas. An unmarked fork in the road—which way to go? Stuck in a rut.”
In the past, I always reached out somewhere, like counseling, to get me through my grieving. Grieving isn’t a bad thing; it is a coping mechanism. But grieving too long is not good. It will crush your mind, body and spirit. I wasn’t reaching out this time and I was getting crushed.
Two things happened over the past month that broke me out of this spell and helped me heal my spirit. The first thing was that a lost dog appeared in front on our house late one evening, barking incessantly. This dog was a clone of my beloved companion Bear that died exactly a year earlier, both in looks and personality. After a month of unsuccessfully locating the owner of this lovable one-year old pup, we adopted “Grizzly”, aka “Little Bear” as we named him.
Second, I came across an article about positivity that I saved from earlier this year. It was also a catalyst that started me thinking healthy thoughts again. I’m posting it today on my blog after I post this article so that it may inspire others as it inspired me.
Divine intervention? I think so. Faith, hope and love are so powerful. They pulled me out of the deep, dark hole I fell into and got me over my grieving. I’m moving forward again with a positive outlook and I’m smiling again on the inside and out.