It is very easy for me to dwell on how much my life has changed since my MS symptoms started emerging, about 5 years ago. My walking has recently deteriorated further and I am really noticing how much every day activities, such as climbing the stairs, are becoming a struggle. But I can’t spend too long thinking about it…if I do, I don’t think that I would be able to get out of bed, drag myself to work, be the parent and wife that I want to be. I am very conscious about making things as ‘normal’ as possible for the kids and, to be honest, focussing on what I can do and just getting on with it, is basically what gets me though the day.
Over the past few weeks, several things have happened to make me step back and truly appreciate what I do have. The end of November saw America’s Thanksgiving. This isn’t something that we celebrate here in the UK but I took the opportunity to read various blog posts written by others giving thanks to special people in their lives. Then I was reminded about just how many special people I have in my life, when a very unexpected, but hugely appreciated surprise gift came through the post for me from an old University friend that I haven’t seen in a number of years. It was a ‘pamper’ pack, sent with the sole purpose of cheering me up. It did the trick. I can’t describe just how much it meant to me to have someone take that time out of their day just to put a smile on my face.
I don’t do it enough, but if I truly stop to think about it, I have loads to be thankful for. Yes, my legs are rubbish and my mobility difficulties affect all aspects of my life, but some things haven’t changed. It is very easy to focus on the bad, but what about the good? My friend put a definite smile on my face with her thoughtful gift, but I have friends and family who make me smile every day:
My friends – who understand that even though I can’t always meet up, are always there for a coffee and catch up when I have the energy and who are happy to let me talk when things get particularly tough.
My in-laws – who offer so much help with the children every week and when Hubs is at work, allowing me to have much needed rest and the chance to recharge
My sister – who, despite living on the other side of the world, is still my best friend and is always at the end of the phone for hour long Skype calls offering virtual cuddles
My brother – who isn’t afraid to give me a big bear hug and tell me ‘I love you’ when we see each other (not often enough)
My parents – who I can rely upon for useful advice, practical help, cuddles and listening ears
My children – who pick me up (literally!) when I have fallen, again, after attempting a yoga pose, make up silly songs at the dinner table and provide me with never-ending stress, pride, joy and love
And, finally, Hubs – for his unwavering willingness to do all of the jobs that I struggle to do – and there are loads. Food shopping, the school run, popping into town to pick up prescriptions and last minute birthday gifts, taxiing the children back and forth to swimming and amusing them whilst I take a much needed nap at the weekend. I know that my worsening health isn’t easy for him to see; I say thank you to him frequently but I need him to know that I truly love and appreciate him so, so much.
Until you are living life with the symptoms of chronic illness, you just cannot imagine how much it is going to affect you. I had no idea when I diagnosed as a ‘normal’, happy-go-lucky 15 year old that this is what my life would look like in my 30s. I know that do not have the health that I wanted and, as a result, I can’t do everything that I want to be able to do. It’s all too easy to focus on what I don’t have anymore… but I do have the family and friends that I had always hoped for. No matter how much my MS progresses, I am going to remind myself of that every day, counting my blessings.