The months leading up to a diagnosis can be stressful, frightening, and frustrating. I have a lot of love and support around me from my friends and family, for which I am extremely grateful. One friend in particular really makes a difference. My good friend Mel. Mel lives strong every day with MS and is a very large proverbial rock for me. This is unfamiliar to her because I never really tell her how much of an inspiration and a source of strength she is for me as I face the realities of what is happening.
I have my reasons as to why I don’t let her in on this. First, and this is selfish, I do not like to talk about stuff, out loud, particularly when it comes to my feelings. Why would this prevent me from telling Mel she’s been my silent hero? It would require me to open up, talk out loud about my feelings, hold hands, sing cumbaya, cry. All of this makes me a bit squeamish. Second, my symptoms are not nearly as severe as hers and I do not want to minimize her painful struggles. While her foot goes completely numb; mine just tingles. While she takes daily injections; I take a few pills. While she gets back tremors; I get tickling and only after a shower. My symptoms and experiences seem so small compared to hers.
Maybe because of this I have found strength from Mel and learned not to be scared. She has shown me that you can cope with a disabling disease and live a normal life. Mel teaches me a lot about how my body works. She explains demyelination to me. This is important because it knocks down the myths I’ve manifested in my head about neurological diseases. When my symptoms worsen, I try to fill my life with what is important, with what makes me happy. She taught me that. So, instead of lounging depressingly around the house, I try to get out to Little Italy, my favorite neighborhood in San Diego. Mel encourages me to listen to my body so I rest when my body calls out. I always feel better after a good nap! Finally, laughter is important, especially to me, and Mel reminds me of this all the time. MRI’s can be funny when you have a friend like Mel. Da,da,da,da,da,da,da,da,da!
So, I thank you Mel, from the depths of my heart. I thank you for the courage, strength, and hope you share with me and I love you very much.