So far the Covid-19 crisis has changed my life in manageable, if uncomfortable ways. The things I’m grieving that in another life might have felt like worst-case scenarios for a world-traveling, party-girl just trying to make the most out of life with MS, seem trivial and first world. Dinners out, some trips, some work, some time with friends, some time alone. The first arms I will run to when this is over will be Jazmin’s, my hair stylist. No offense, Mom.
My MS is being impacted in ways that will only be measurable when this is long over. I’m missing physio and massage therapy, the DMD I was supposed to start is being delayed, putting some much needed health-hope on hold, and my attempts at fasting look like—well—the exact opposite of fasting.
I already work from home most of the time; and if I’m being real, I was always more of an indoor girl anyway. (Check my complexion for the receipts.) But, The Banker is banking from home now, too, which means I’m scheduling my morning smoothie-making around his Zoom calls and reminding myself that this is ‘our’ apartment, not ‘my’ apartment.
For now, I feel like I’ve adjusted to big changes and everything is under control. But if having MS has taught me anything (it’s taught me lots of things), it’s that there’s no such thing as control, change is inevitable, and chaos is normal.
Uncertainty is something we’ve all dealt with at various points in our lives. But we are not conditioned to embrace the purgatory of not knowing. Uncertainty drives our brains to make sense of what’s going on; and for many of us, a lot of worst-case scenarios are being cooked up as we try to fill in the blanks about what comes next.
Which isn’t to say we aren’t facing some actual worst-case scenarios right now.
The majority of my own experience of uncertainty and catastrophic daymares comes from having lived my whole adult life with MS; a disease that can, and has, stopped me in my tracks with things like periods of sudden blindness and degrees of paralysis. Lately, waking up and turning on the news to see what the hell today’s gonna be like, is reminiscent of waking up with MS and scanning my body, checking in to see if I’m going to be able to walk, or move my arms, or see.
Sometimes—not always—but sometimes, my worst-case scenarios have come true. Sometimes, the worst thing I could have imagined at the time, came to pass. Disability stuff for sure, but also personal disasters like breakups, and job losses, and deaths of loved ones. Shit I told myself I’d never be able to overcome. But I did.
I have already survived all of my own personal worst-case scenarios.
And, I’m willing to bet my doomsday stash of Crémant and Miss Vickie’s that regardless of whether you have MS or not, you’ve survived more than one worst-case scenario of your own.
Every time I start to spiral about what MS is going to throw at me next, I think of the really hard stuff I’ve already adapted to: the lifestyle changes I was convinced I couldn’t handle, but did. Knowing that I slayed those personal disease-dragons is usually enough to convince me that I will be able to do it again, and again. And even when I can’t fully commit to believing in a manageable outcome, I can at least acknowledge the possibility of one, and sometimes, that has to be enough.
If you’re alive today, survival is in your DNA. Humans have been overcoming unbelievable adversity since forever. We can adapt to extraordinary circumstances. If you have MS, you already know this more than most.
You don’t have to pretend that any of this doesn’t suck. In fact, I’ll say it for you: This straight-up fucking sucks. But, as you wait for things to get better, knowing that they may also get worse, trust in your resilience and ability to adapt.
You can do hard things. You’ve done them before.
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