Editor’s Note: MS Patient Specialist and Columnist Judy Lynn writes from her unique and engaging perspective as an MS patient reflecting on the challenges that the disease presents and how to cope with them in her daily life. In her debut article for her new Column “You’ve Got Some Nerves,” she confronts the issue of dealing with new Multiple Sclerosis symptoms.
One recent sunny day, I wandered into a friend’s backyard to admire his flowers and help myself to a plum. The gladiolas had wilted, but the dahlias were vibrant jewels of purple, yellow, and red. Dahlias always captivate me; they’re unabashedly bold in their rainbow of colors, shapes, and sizes. And so, in this yard I’ve visited many times, it is easy for me to focus on my favorites and overlook some of the other offerings.
As I walked back to the house I dropped my plum. I drop a lot of things. The messages from brain to hand take an MS detour. This particular detour was a gift: the scenic route, so to speak. My half-eaten plum rolled to a rest near some delicate red snapdragons that were growing in the wrong place, poking up from rocks between several paver stones. They appeared bright, strong, and beautifully resilient, and spoke to me in a visceral way. I stood still, dirty plum in hand, and listened.
At first I thought they said, “Bloom where you are planted.” I frowned. This familiar saying always sounds like good advice. Similar to “make the most of your circumstances,” “seize the day,” “be somebody’s sunshine”… snippets are bandied about like optimistic verbal penny candy. My problem with the message was this: MS never lets me stay planted for long!
My symptoms are many and varied. This summer, my MS family grew by one left foot drop. Fatigue, dysarthria (speech difficulty), and right foot drop threw a welcome party. Dysesthesia showed some love with lots of hugs … the “MS hug” variety. Just as I dealt with one symptom another would appear! It can be exhausting to just function and maintain through the changes. These were my thoughts as I stared at the snapdragons.
I squatted down to take a picture, and that’s when I heard it. “Bloom! Wherever you fall.” This snapdragon seed, blown by the wind or carried by a bird, was not intentionally planted. That’s just where it fell. It hung on, grew, and blossomed despite rocks, a 120-pound dog, and many human feet.
It was both a reassurance and a challenge. Each time my MS causes me to fall, literally or figuratively, I must look around and accept my new reality. The next step is to adapt. This may mean a psychological adaptation of peaceful co-existence, or it may mean a brace, cane, or other practical tool. I’ve been working on these first two steps. But the tiny flowers were challenging me to take it a step further.
Bloom. Wherever, and however, I fall. Go beyond acceptance and adaptation. Open up to the current conditions and flourish in the changes. I have to be honest, it won’t be easy but I will give it a try, my feisty floral friends. Tell me, how do you bloom? How do you remain bright, strong, and beautifully resilient in the midst of MS change?
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Multiple Sclerosis.