Multiple sclerosis

Chin up

Learning to cope is an acquired skill, one that takes several stabs before getting the hang of it.

I still haven’t grasped it entirely. Like my movements on those really off days, my coping strategy is a bit clunky and unrefined.

I just finished back-to-back reading of two memoirs on multiple sclerosis – ‘Fall Down Laughing’ from Squiggy and ‘Blindsided’ by Richard M. Cohen (Mr. Meredith Vieira). I know I’m not alone in my illness, but immersing myself in their worlds for a bit has helped me find some perspective and solace.

I feel a kinship with these people. Their fears are mine. Their struggles, mine too.

How we cope was another similar path, although denial played a much larger part for both of them. Such refusal to accept reality sustained me for only so long before the disease stormed in and took me hostage, piece by piece.

But Cohen, especially, touches a raw nerve when he talks about the emotional side of illness. The anger I feel at a diminished life has no outlet and isn’t constructive.

To cope with MS requires a near-constant course correction. Today my hands are numb. Yesterday, my shot was terrible. I wish I could go sleep for a week, I’m so tired. Roll with the punches, I suppose.

“Coping is a forever an aspiration,” Cohen writes. “Coping evolves.”

He also writes about keeping his head up — literally and figuratively. When you are looking down, only at yourself, you can’t see the damage that has been inflicted on others, or to see that others are there in the first place.

I’m trying to keep my chin up, as Charlotte the spider says. It takes practice.

Like walking.





5 thoughts on “Chin up”

  1. “…took me hostage, piece by piece….

    Indeed. How we heal afterwards, as you suggest, is an individual and ongoing thing. “…a near-constant course correction” describes that process well.

  2. Hey Jenn, I’ve been meaning to leave a reply on this post ever since you posted it. I guess I forgot, till tonight as I was cleaning up my email inbox. This post really hit me. I know I don’t have MS, but I do have FM (Fibromyalgia). I was finally diagnosed in Oct 2005, after suffering through 4yrs of constant daily pain (some days completely debilitating pain)…that no one could diagnose or figure out what was wrong. An indivisible chronic disease with no cure, only treatments for the different ailments. I definitely did not want to accept my reality! Keeping my chin up has been a BIG struggle for me. As you said, “Learning to cope is an acquired skill”, just when I think I’ve gotten the hang of it….bang, another set back another hurdle to overcome. My FM has gotten so bad over the last year that I am now having to adjust to being on permanent disability. I haven’t worked a full day since June 2010. I’m on SSD now, but I am determined not be on it long. I am fighting this chronic invisible disease with every possible weapon in my arsenal, so to speak.

    You wrote…”But Cohen, especially, touches a raw nerve when he talks about the emotional side of illness. The anger I feel at a diminished life has no outlet and isn’t constructive.”

    I’m still angry and although I know it isn’t constructive, I’m doing my best to turn that anger over to God. He has gotten me this far. For me & my struggle with FM, when I wake up each day (if I sleep @ all these days)…it’s the pain that reminds me I am still alive! Guess just being alive is something I am holding on to right now. It’s the way I cope….

    Your wrote…“Coping is a forever an aspiration,” Cohen writes.

    Coping is definitely forever an aspiration. And it sure does take practice!

    Sorry this was such a long winded reply, I probably should have emailed you instead. oops! But I have to say, that although we struggle with completely different diseases, I feel like more & more we are fighting very similar battles. If you get a free moment, give me a call or email me. I would really like to hang out sometime, catch up, tell stories we remember from our HS days. I MISS YOU!

    Oh & on a final note….NICK, you are SOOO right!! I believe Jenn does walk through life like she walk across a stage, with an incredible amount of grace and poise. (she was always so amazing in any of our theater productions in high school & I’ll never forget how amazing it is to see her dance!)

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