Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Body Buddy: Rethinking The Feeling My Body Betrayed Me With MS

I’m doing the best I can.  I may not be doing EVERYTHING I can, but it’s still enough. 

I’ve been experiencing some additional MS symptoms lately.  It’s completely understandable given I’m experiencing more stress than usual.  Still, when healthy habits lead to feeling better it’s easy to blame myself for not living a perfect, healthy life when symptoms emerge. 
When I was diagnosed with MS, I felt like my body had betrayed me and I could no longer trust it.  I thought I was super healthy, and suddenly my body went numb.  Doctors told me I had an incurable disease that I’d had for years. 
In my research of how others coped with MS, I often heard people approach it as warriors fighting a daily battle against their disease. I can appreciate the analogy and it makes sense, but it never resonated with me.  Fighting myself feels exhausting. And what am I fighting?  I have a super active immune system that thinks the insulation on my nerves (myelin) is an invader and needs to be destroyed.  My immune system is fantastic at destroying other invaders.  It’s just confused with myelin some of the time.  Bummer.
It occurred to me to think of my body as my buddy who is great at some things and sucks at others but I love her just the same.  My body didn’t betray me.  She is doing the best she can.  She held up magnificently for a long time, and she continues to do amazing things.  My neurologist says with my MRI scans he would expect me to have some disability.  At this point I have symptoms I notice but no one else does. I think it’s awesome that my body has compensated to get the nerve messages to parts of my body blocked by lesions.
It’s taken me time to shift my thinking from feeling betrayed to trusting myself again.  Now I think being healthy and having an incurable disease are not completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  They can both be true in one body. 
My body has been doing the best it can all my life.  Some of my habits help it, and some challenge it. Some activities and foods don’t support optimal physical health, but they nurture my mental health and feed my soul.  Sometimes I’m coping and sometimes I’m nurturing.  I think stressing out about not doing more can be more harmful to my health than the occasional indulgence.
So I may not be doing everything I can, but I’m balancing all aspects of my health in order to lead a fulfilling, active and hopefully long life!