I just spent the weekend working and my heart is full. I think I’ve mentioned before, I work for the National MS Society. I love my job and this weekend is one of the reasons why!
Our Chapter hosted a couples retreat for people living with MS. I spent the weekend with 40 people living with an unpredicatable disease, who care enough about their relationship to do some hard work. They spent time talking about the tough stuff; how frustrating it is to have to carry more than your share of the housework, how sad it is to not be able to walk hand in hand, how scary it is to not know what lies ahead for the one they love. They talked about feelings of guilt, anxiety, resentment. All the emotions that come with living with a chronic, unpredictable disease.
They also celebrated the gifts they have been given. They shared the blessings that have come from living with this disease. They supported and encouraged each other. They confirmed their commitment to face their future together, whatever it may look like.
MS affects every person differently. Many people don’t show any outward signs or symptoms, but deal with extreme fatigue, painful “pins and needles” or numbness that no one can see. Others deal with a continuous progression of symptoms leading them to become dependent on mobility devices, and eventually dependent on others for their daily needs. No one knows which course of this disease is in their future. They must plan for the worst and pray for the best, taking each day in stride. I really don’t know how I would handle that situation. I fear it would not be with grace.
It is so very easy to take my life for granted. It is easy to get wrapped up in my own universe; to be so caught up in my life that I forget to give thanks. It is easy to get my shorts in a knot over the small stuff; to think my problems are big. It’s not that my problems are insignificant, it is about seeing them for what they are- challenges that can be managed. I think perspective is a gift and I appreciate the opportunity to gain some every now and then.
I feel blessed to have been a part of this weekend and met so many wonderful people. I am grateful for the work I am able to do and proud of the people I work with who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. committed colleagues who work long hours and many who have dedicated their careers to improving the quality of life for people living with MS. They inspire me and motivate me. And programs like this weekend remind me how fortunate I am to do the work I do. It’s humbling.
If you want to be a part of making a difference you can join the movement with me! www.MSmidamerica.org Ride your bike, volunteer, donate, get involved!