"It's been 20 years?" I asked my mom. "Well, yes."
I had forgotten. It has been 20 years. It's been 23 years since I woke up with tingly legs, marking the beginning of this thing that, on Feb 11, got a name called MS.
"I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is... The bad news is we have found spots on your spine which indicate you have Multiple Sclerosis."
"Should I just lie down here on the floor and die then?"
(Look of shock) "No.... there is someone who works in the lab here who has MS... there is someone getting their Masters who has MS."
(me) "Mom, I think I the type of MS means I have will not be the easiest path, but I won't have the hardest path. I think MS will always affect me and be a big part of my life. But I think my life will continue, and I will always be 'Beth.' I won't lose my identity."
Life is like a river. It changes course, sometimes moves more quickly than other times, sometimes gets stuck on rocks or bunches of grass. But it continues. Sometimes those grassy spots seem to never end. If we break through the grassy spots, we may find a fast flowing river again. With MS, there may be more rocks in the way, more grassy spots, and perhaps a slower river. But one never knows when that river may pick up again, and so, I've always looked for the breakthroughs, and have found some.
My doctor was right, and I didn't just lie on the floor and die. I got a job. I went back to school. I got married. I am a mom.
There's been a Facebook "thing" lately where someone gives you an age and you answer questions based on that age, and the same questions today. I was given 19, very close to age 20, when I was diagnosed with MS. It's interesting to fill this out, thinking of 20 years ago.
On Feb 11, 1993,
I lived in: a small and dark dormroom at Kenyon College in Ohio
I drove: my friend Kelley's car to many dr appts in Columbus, an hour away from Kenyon
I worked at: N/A
I dated/married: too busy going to the dr for these things
I feared: I don't know. I was in a cloud.
I wanted to be: alive.
Now that it's (almost) Feb 11, 2013
I live in: Colorado, which has always been home
I drive: do I have to say? I do drive!
I work at: I will be starting a new job on Feb 11 at an organization called CIVHC.
I am dating/married to: Dave
I fear: depends on the day, hour, minute, etc.
I want to be: happy, successful in all I do, and someone who never gives up.
So, 20 years ago on Feb 11 I went through a day that was horrible, filled with tests which led to "you have MS." This Feb 11 I start a new job. It's quite a different kind of day. I find it somewhat strange that it's almost an opposite type of day.
Throughout these 20 years, I have looked to God, and considered "suffering leads to endurance, which leads to character, which leads to hope, and hope does not disappoint us." I find myself at all stages of this continuum, which wasn't written as Beth's stages of life, but I have used it that way. As a sidenote, I don't like the word "suffering" in the context of MS. I live with MS. Since it's my blog, I would like to substitute "living with MS" in place of "suffering." Blogs can be so much fun!
I have said "Why, God?" "God, seriously, are you kidding? This is too much."
I have actually screamed (alone): "God, I cannot take this anymore. How long must this continue?!"
"God, I know people say God never gives you more than you can handle, but I have more, I really do."
"Thank you, God."
"God, this is a gift."
"God, could this be true? This is simply wonderful."
And here I am, 20 years later, amazed.
It's been quite a journey, God. I am amazed, thankful, and happy."