I remember how one of the first things that went through my mind when I was given the diagnosis was...omg...my kids. The "omg" was threefold. 1) Would they get it. 2) Would it change my definition of "mother". And 3) Would I be a burden to them. Thankfully, at that moment, I was being held tightly by dear friend/chiropractor. And she was saying, "this doesn't change the mother you will be, and your kids aren't going to get this". Hmm. A subscription to Psychic Friends Network? Great instincts? Or a deep knowledge of who I am and, therefore, what my greatest fears would be? I'm going with the latter. She's good, what can I say...
That was 7 years ago, nearly to the day. And I'm not even someone to remember dates of things, but I remember that one. I will forever be grateful for the compassionate manner in which she delivered that news.
So my kids. They're 12 and 11 now, and have never known me outside of "living with ms". I began with symptoms immediately following my son's birth. Because I was brought up in a family that avoids doctors like the plague, I battled symptoms until I could no longer ignore them. But when walking for exercise turned into falling in ditches and losing full feeling from the waist down, it was pretty much time to face the facts. Four years later, it occurred to me that somethin' was up. August 2003.
I got to thinking about what my kids have seen over the past 11 years. Early on, they saw me sleep...fall...sleep...trip...sleep...hurt...and sleep. Then, while on the medicine for 6 months, they saw me sleep...fall...sleep...spew...sleep...hurt...spew...and spew. Present day, they see me work...pee...walk...work...pee...walk...stub a toe...pee...work...and pee. I'd rather pee than sleep, pee than spew, and work than pee. So I guess I'm doing alright by my own standards?
My daughter and I were having a deep convo the other night. Earlier in the day, I had the opportunity to help someone in the grocery store who was living with ms...very visible symptoms...and my kids happened to be along with me. My daughter asked if I would "get like that". Without carefully thinking out my response, I laughed, shrugged my shoulders, and said, "heck if I know!" Emotional lability? Maybe, and very poor timing. This is the first time she's ever opened up to me about HER fears, and I gave her the equivalent response of a hot air balloon...ablaze. Her face dropped and she looked about 2" from tears. Dummy.
I regrouped. I didn't have to grow up with a "sick" mom. Mine? Was flawless. Sure, she had things going on, but I never knew about those until I grew up and wondered how in the heck she kept that all in check. In my head, I asked the Spirit to do the talking. Obviously, I blew it a moment prior. So here's what came out of my mouth...
Only God knows what's to come of any of us. If we spend our time worrying about what will be, we aren't going to be effective for Him. If we focus on our circumstances, we can't focus on Christ. We can't be like Peter, walking toward Jesus in faith, but then being fearful and looking down at the water. We'll sink. We can't shine a light if we sink! Pretty good stuff, right? Yep. I could see the worry leave her beautiful face. But then I spoke on my own. "And besides, if I ever do have a problem with mobility? I'm getting a Hoveround, and I'm going to get Daddy to do something to it to make it really fast, because one thing I have always loved? Goin' fast!" Dummy.
So all I can pray for is the right words. I find that most of my journey with this unwelcome partner is making others be alright with it, rather than making myself be alright with it. And I guess that's the blessing. When I'm focused on others, I can't focus on myself.