So, I was doing some reading (you know, with all this spare time as I facilitate online learning for 2 little guys… sarcasm = expert level), when I stumbled onto a chapter about choices. “Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.”. This stopped me in my tracks (ok yes, I was sitting but it’s a metaphor). With all this chaos going on in our world at the moment, with so many elements beyond our control, with normalcy fading further out of focus, we have lost a lot of our freedom to choose. We didn’t choose the fact that this pandemic is still ongoing or that we can’t send our kids to school or celebrate birthdays in restaurants with friends. When my neurologist first told me that we were looking at the possibility of MS, that was NOT a change I wanted in my life. But, what we can choose is how to react to those changes and how to respond when things aren’t going to plan. Suuuuuuper easy to fall into a haze of comfort food eating, Netflix binging and wine sipping when life throws you a stressful curveball (been there, done that… still do that every now and then)! And that, is totally fine! We deserve to comfort and treat ourselves. The key is moderation - choosing not to let that be your only way of dealing with garbage situations! Making choices, makes you!
Do you remember high school physics, learning about Newton’s Law “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”? I feel like this applies perfectly to the Change = Choice model. My lovely symptoms provide a myriad of changes for me; very easy to get caught up and focused on the changes, especially when I have no control over them. When my legs first went numb, it was very easy to focus on the “WTF is happening?!” - and I think that’s a very natural reaction lol. But they key is, ok… I’ve had my moment to sulk about this, now what choices are we going to make in response to the change? Legs are numb? Then let’s walk carefully and slowly, but just keep moving. Right eye giving me some issues? Cool, I could probably use less screen time anyway so let’s try a podcast! Those glorious MS hugs? Ok so let’s focus on some breathing exercises until it subsides. Mirroring personal struggles, we’ve seen the “change = choice” implemented in various times throughout the pandemic as well; No birthday parties = birthday drive-bys and parades, cancelled live concerts = streaming a concert in your living room, can’t go to a restaurant = trying a new recipe. These don’t have to be crazy big changes or reactions - will making sourdough bread solve the pandemic? Unfortunately, not. Will working out erase the lesions in my spine? Also no. But what it will do is shift the focus from harm to harmony. Pick out the positives! And if anything, you’ll have delicious bread.
Give yourself the grace to mourn the change if you need to, but don’t forget to embrace the choice you make in response to the change. I never thought I would have to deal with all the changes MS brought into my life, but my choices stemming from the change are what make me stronger and more resilient; and I know this resonates with many of you feeling the same with this craziness going on!
So, in conclusion, I leave you with the famous words of the late great David Bowie, because this just sums it all up perfectly (and the tune will be stuck in your head, guaranteed):
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man Time may change me But I can't trace time”