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Saturday, March 3, 2012

MS.. take responsibility!

I read something on Facebook today.  A few months ago, I joined a page called "I Hate Multiple Sclerosis" and throughout the day people with MS, caregivers, family or friends post questions for members to respond to and/or offer suggestions and give support.  Even though I've had MS for a little over two decades, I've learned quite a bit from this page.  Everyone's experience is his or her own, yet there is a common bond that connects us.  We are each living with a chronic disease that does all it can to take away our pride and independence while we do our best to find a new place of normalcy for our lives in which we feel we can thrive.
When my MS "journey" began, it mostly affected the left side of my body and was told by my then-neurologist that it would, most likely, stay on that side since MS tends to do that.  Umm, wrong!  Within a couple years, the MS jumped to the other side of my body, which meant I couldn't always rely on my driving leg/foot to respond.  Once my right leg didn't feel too reliable, I chose to stop driving.  I'm sure I could have driven but just the thought of possibly hurting someone because of my stubbornness to not hang the keys up was too much for me to even imagine.  When I'm on the road, everyone around me becomes my responsibility and take it very seriously.  I was probably 23 the first time I had to give up driving and it lasted for almost an entire year, even though I wasn't sure if I would ever regain enough use of my right leg to feel the freedom of driving my '82 Firebird again.  And believe me.. I LOVED DRIVING MY SPORTS CAR!

Over the years, I've had to stop driving many times.  I would rather inconvenience people (mostly Mom and Dad) to pick me up than drive my car, which would be a death mobile in my condition.  Having MS really did force me to mature very quickly and put life into perspective, even if the first few years were plagued with deep depression and self-hate.  How much more would I despise myself if I hurt someone because I couldn't stop my car?  To me, there's just no excuse to drive when I'm unsure of myself.

On the I Hate MS page today, a gentleman posted that he had been in a traffic accident a few years back due to his inability to distinguish between the brake and gas pedal.  No one was hurt but the damage to both vehicles had been quite extensive.  Last year, the same thing had happened to him twice (not being able to hit the right pedal) and even though it had not resulted in an accident I have to question how he would have considered it an "accident," knowing his MS was active and was not allowing him to react quickly.  Knowing your limitations is essential when you're dealing with MS or a number of other conditions that could impair your thinking and reaction time. I have to say that when I read his post, I was more angry than I want to admit but many of the responses, aside from mine, stated how they, too, choose to stop driving when MS rears its' ugly head and for this, I'm very proud.
Having MS forces us to be strong in a way we probably never imagined.. at least this is how it has been for me.   Knowing I'm strong enough to face the reality that is my life gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment, even if others may see it as surrendering to a life less adequate than I would have wished for myself years ago.  I am still me.. just slightly revamped and more understanding of peoples' limitations and fears.  I just hope others with MS will not view giving things up as a weakness, but rather a humongous strength that they were able to face up to their new reality and find peace within themselves that they are doing the best they can.

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you Lucy- it shouldn't even be a question of whether or not to drive while having the leg, cognitive function or arms be affected by MS. I read a similar post the other day by a woman who said that she had such a brain fog while on the highway that she wasn't aware of the cars or road. Why not just pull over for a bit? I'd rather push aside the "I'm in a hurry, I'll be okay cause I'm invincible" notion than to risk someone's life, including my own. And if having a relapse, there are other alternatives! Car pooling, public transportation, hitching a ride with friends or family, or pushing aside what can be done at a later date. I've been learning (sometimes the hard way) that life revolves around compromises, and MS is certainly no exception to that. :) Great post Lucy!

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    1. I don't know who you are, but thank you! I have such strong feelings on this topic and it's wonderful to see others who share this view. No one's life is so insignificant that I will risk hurting, or possibly killing, them because I was too proud to ask for a ride.

      Have a wonderful day! :)

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