Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Part of My Sky

Recently, I was at a routine doctor's appointment and he asked,
"How's your MS doing? Is it stable?"
My knee-jerk reaction was,
"No. I have relapses every 3-4 months."
But that's not true.
I haven't had a relapse in 22 months. That's almost Two Years.
And that, my friends, is the clinical definition of: stable.

Stable. Even now that word feels so foreign. It was something far away, that I wasn't ever going to be able to achieve no matter how hard I tried...and yet here I am. Sure, no doctor would look at my chart and call me nice things like "healthy." In fact, after reviewing my chart most doctor's favorite word to describe me is "complicated."

Okay, fine. I'm complicated. But I'm also stable!

Finally, I can look at MS as something other than this all-consuming, relentless beast that can't be quieted for more than months at a time. Finally i can see it as this thing that i live with that does affect much of my life and my day-to-day decisions, but that it's just one piece of who i am. it doesn't own me like it used to, and it sure as hell doesn't define me.

There is a great murder mystery series by a man named Stephen White. The books revolve around Dr. Alan Gregory, a psychologist who always seems to find himself wrapped up in some homicide, which he inevitably helps to solve. The books are fast-paced and entertaining and the supporting cast of characters are truly unforgettable...from the sarcastic but lovable police detective to the wonderful wacky neighbors and fellow psychologists.

And there is Lauren Crowder, the alluring and sharp-witted Assistant District Attorney with whom Alan falls in love. The series also follows their romance as it evolves. And the real zinger is that Lauren has MS.

The way he writes this character, depicting her daily battles, her ups and downs, her quickly becomes obvious that Stephen White knows this disease very well. But much like his fictional character, Mr. White chooses not to disclose his relationship with MS. It remains a mystery as he makes no mention in either his novels or on his website about it. Does he himself fight the MonSter? Is it a loved one? In truth, it doesn't matter because not only is he an entertaining mystery writer, but he gives a wonderful face to MS - a fighter who refuses to let this disease take her down.

One of my favorite passages (and there are many) occurs in an early book in the series, in one of the few moments where Lauren opens up and talks about her disease:

"Why me? Why not me? I've been eligible for many blessings in my life. I've been fortunate in so many ways. I think it would be remarkably arrogant to rule myself ineligible for any hardship that might come along. Indeed, why not me? I'd like to think I'm as well prepared as anybody for living with this illness...Multiple Sclerosis is one of the constellations in my sky. It's there. Like the Little Dipper. Sometimes it's obscured, sometimes it's the brightest light in the sky. but it's always there. I don't think about it all the time. When I do look up, it's there. That's all, it's just there. Part of my sky."

For over four years this has been my dream.
Even if I wake up tomorrow with some horrible relapse, I know now that this place of acceptance exists for me.
I know that "stable" was achievable.

MS is nothing more than a MonSter shaped constellation.
It's just there, that's all.
It's just part of my sky.

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