I wrote this post as a submission to Grand Rounds, so it has info most of you are already familiar with but I had to fill in for strangers who might read it. The theme was "Celebration". I don't know if my piece will be chosen for this week, but the topic inspired me. :)
Fireworks. It felt like fireworks going off in my arm, hot, exploding white light.
I hit the cement patio like a meteor, my foot caught in a noose of loose wire that I never saw. My face was cut by my glasses, my hands were scraped and bleeding, as were both knees, but it was that arm where the fireworks were bursting repeatedly.
That was two years ago. I shattered my shoulder in that fall and have had three surgeries to repair it, including a partial replacement. But my arm still, for the most part, hangs painful and essentially useless at my side. And no one can figure out why.
Multiple Sclerosis is considered the most likely culprit for the lack of healing and constant pain. I have been diagnosed for five years now (a 50th birthday present!). And because of the mystery that is MS, an accident most people would have recovered from long ago continues to impact every aspect of my life.
MS has left that life, formerly organized, prosperous and going nowhere but up, in shambles. It cost me my career in executive health care. A widow and now unemployed, I cannot afford to maintain my beloved home, a charming Craftsman cottage, which is crumbling around me. Everyone I know is losing patience, constantly pressuring me to give it up. I am barely scraping by. I am a nurse and I have a Master’s Degree, but I am sewing to make ends meet, like something out of a 19th century novel.
So what do I have to celebrate?
I am still here, that’s what. I rise up from each blow and figure out what I can I do next. I keep reinventing myself. It can be almost a weekly occurrence, but hey, flexibility is my middle name. I am no Pollyanna. I do not accept that ridiculous deception that MS is a ‘gift’ that has helped me to stop and smell the roses. It is a cunning, vicious thief that has stolen so many things from me I cannot even make an inventory.
But what is left is precious. And that is what I acclaim. That I can continue to enjoy my beloved children, my adorable grandson, my wonderful, giving, loving friends. There is my sweet dog, who gives me unconditional adoration. There are the many rewards I get from writing my blog, such fun and so sustaining. There is the breeze that comes through my bedroom window in the early morning, cool and promising. A moment like that is a gentle fragment of bliss.
I soldier on. I will not profess it is easy to maintain, it's not, it's hard as hell. Some days, I can't get there. But I keep reasserting my maxim and working to internalize it. I read, recite, repeat: Life is good. Love it. Be grateful.