Just when I "thought" everything was in place for me to return to work tomorrow on a "light duty" status, I was broad-sided today by my employer...since far too many people are getting sued for the content in their blogs, suffice it to say shots were fired, but I ultimately "won". I'm STILL heading back into my office on Friday!
What I CAN feel safe (and comfortable) in writing about on BRAINCHEESE is my belief how absolutely ignorant the world at large is about Multiple Sclerosis. It does not seem to be enough to have to LIVE with MS and its plethora of symptoms on a daily basis...those of us DIAGNOSED with the disease must also suffer the consequences of a society full of people who lack a basic understanding of not only MS, but how difficult it is to live with what is termed a "hidden illness".
Now, I have to say currently, my MS is no longer "hidden"...it's pretty front and center and affecting most of my daily living/daily activities. I've got a cane and a limp...I look rather "drunk" sometimes when I walk...can't and don't look above my head or to the right or I appear rather green around the gills and COULD possibly throw up on you!
But if I were sitting quietly with you directly in front of me, you would not know I have multiple lesions in my brain and a large lesion in my spine...you would not know I have Multiple Sclerosis...and frankly, you probably wouldn't care. You'd have no idea what my struggles are or what I endure on a daily basis. There are no outward scars, casts, bones, radiation burns, deformities, etc. Unless I told you, NO ONE would ever know I have MS.
If there is one thing my MS has taught me, it is TOLERANCE...and I'm not referring to tolerating my MS here! I'm talking about tolerance for OTHERS and the many struggles and things about other people that may not be obvious to my eyes. I find myself now (post diagnosis) viewing others with more compassionate eyes...I find myself not "judging a book by its cover" as much as I used to...I find myself trying to understand the "hidden disorder" in all of us, whether it be someone who is angrily yelling for no apparent reason or someone who cuts me off in traffic deliberately. I find myself wondering what motivates each of us to do or behave the way we do...and if I can, I try to apply compassion to the situation.
We ALL have our own story, our own reasons, our own rationales for why we do the things we do...whether this is the result of a hidden or obvious illness or just the result of our past experiences. And I'm not offering these "reasons or past experiences" as excuses for BAD behavior, but I AM saying there's always a motive.
My motive today was to return to work and to return to work with my MS not so hidden. This is not the "norm" for how I would return to work...I believe my current situation and status could be very uncomfortable to those around me. How I present today forces others to really look at my MS and maybe even to view me a bit differently...it may strike chords of vulnerability, sadness, or even anger in some.
I cannot predict or know exactly how others will react to my current situation. But what I can predict and control is MY reaction to them. I can "fight" for what is fair and just when I need to and I can also "educate" those who are truly motivated to learn and understand.
What seems to be the hardest lesson for me to master is fighting with compassion! I kind of lost the "compassion" element in my battles today (LOL)...but maybe...just maybe in my fight, I have managed to pave a road that will be much smoother for the next person with MS to travel upon. Maybe...just maybe...if nothing else, "someone" has learned just because I have MS, it does not mean I will lay down without a fight!