How can I describe multiple sclerosis (MS)?
If it were a celebrity, I would call it MADONNA.
If it were an animal, I would call it a CHAMELEON.
And if it were candy, I would call it a MYSTERY FLAVORED LOLLIPOP.
What do all of these have in common? They each represent people or things that are constantly changing.
Madonna is known for re-inventing herself, chameleons change colors to blend in with their environment and it's pretty difficult to come across the exact same mystery flavored lollipop.
My point is, you can't be sure about what you're going to get. One case of MS can be completely different from the next. It also comes in relapsing, remitting and progressive forms which allows it to "re-invent" itself simply because it can. This is exactly what makes MS such a tricky and terrifying illness.
I started to think about this more this past Monday after an encounter with another person living with MS. At first, I assumed that he was a victim of some horrible accident. He was sitting in a wheelchair and he stammered and slurred his words as he spoke. As he continued to speak and move around, I got a look at the back of his shirt. It was a walk for a cure t-shirt from a recent multiple sclerosis fundraiser. Naturally, I froze for a few minutes because no matter how good I'm feeling, individuals with progressive forms of MS always frighten me. I had my occasional "could that be me" moment. During these moments all kinds of horrible thoughts race through my head until I start crying or something else comes along to distract from me.
As I sat and wondered whether or not that would be me in 10 years, my little sister tapped me on the shoulder and brought me back to reality. As the week continued, I learned more about him. I learned that his MS progressed over time and that he was actually capable of getting out of his wheelchair to walk although he had a pretty bad limp. He also maintained a beautiful and positive attitude.
There it was. It was another case of MS, staring me in the face and proving my Mystery Flavor-Chameleon-Madonna theory. But, there was a difference with this one. In this case, the person had choices. He wasn't necessarily wheelchair-bound and although his speech was impaired it didn't stop him from speaking and by the looks of things, he wasn't going to let it. Basically, he didn't let MS take everything away from him and that is what mattered the most.
Yes, MS has various flavors, phases and forms. Yes, MS can go from mild and manageable to severe and life-changing in the blink of an eye. However, there is one thing that should remain constant. YOUR ATTITUDE.
STAY TUNED AND STAY FEARLESS LOVES!