The above litany is not a complete list of my MS symptoms. I've got more, but I'll spare you the complete accounting. My point being- if I don't mention it, don't assume I'm not experiencing it.
Bad luck, huh? Life is unfair, right? It must suck to be confined to a wheelchair. You might think that this would be so, but for me it is largely not the case. I have good days and bad days, but no more so than the average 45 year old man. I’m not happy that I have MS, but I am happy. I spend almost no time lamenting over what could have been, or regretting my misfortune. Because I enjoy my life as much as I ever did, despite its challenges, am I crazy, in denial, or am I on to something? I started this blog in part to explore those types of questions.
I believe that an individual's level of happiness is largely self determined. However, to be practical about it, we are also influenced by our own inherent personality traits and by our interactions with the world around us. Here are a few things that I have working in my favor- traits and experiences that just make it a little easier for me to live a contented life:
- Good internal wiring. I have a favorable genetic makeup for dealing with situations like this. Thanks Mom and Dad.
- I have an incredible support system. It starts with my wife, and includes other family, friends, and medical professionals. My support system also includes my online MS friends, almost none of whom I’ve actually met face to face.
- I watched and learned as my mother endured similar challenges with incredible grace and courage. Her disability was due to a sudden accident when she was 35 years old and I was only 5. Her spinal cord injury was in her cervical spine. My primary lesion load (area of disease activity) is in my cervical spine, in almost the exact same location as my mother’s injury. The longer I battle this disease the more my symptoms resemble hers. I know. It’s freaky.
- I have some level of financial stability. I'm not wealthy, but I might not be so happy if I was cold or wet, or worried about where my next meal would come from.
- Although I'm often fatigued, I am not in much pain, and I rarely feel "sick".
- I have widely varied interests. When I can no longer enjoy one activity, there is another activity on my list that I can take up (i.e., blogging).
- I have the ability to enjoy sedentary pursuits. If this had happened to my hyperactive wife, for example, it would have been a significantly greater challenge.
The reason I am blogging now, and never have blogged before now, is that as of May, 2009 I have lots of time on my hands and need something fun, interesting, and useful to help fill my day. After 8 years of getting up and going to work with MS, it finally got to the point where I could no longer do my job. If you have not read the About Me section on the right hand sidebar yet, please take a minute to do so.
Here are some desirable potential outcomes of this blogging adventure, in no particular order:
- I will connect in a variety of ways with people who I don't currently know.
- This blog will stimulate some interesting conversations on a variety of disability related topics.
- This blog will have any sort of positive impact on some of the folks who visit it.
- I will leave a legacy of writing that will outlive me, so that my descendants will understand what life was like for their disabled ancestor.
- The process of maintaining the blog will be in some way therapeutic for me.
- I will come to understand myself better.
- Those who know and/or love me will come to understand me better.
- I will advocate for the disabled community: raise awareness, articulate our plight, help facilitate change
- Some media giant will buy my blog and I will get rich. Ha, that is rich.
- In the process of organizing, acknowledging, and posting my thoughts here, I will come to my senses and realize I’m completely screwed, and change the name of this blog from “Enjoying the Ride” to “Life Sucks- Why Bother?”.