Saturday, June 14, 2008

Aging Gracefully

People who were diagnosed with MS 20 years ago or more were told to lie down and wait for death. Funny thing is many of those people are still around. Some of them are actually better off than I am without the benefit of the disease modifying medications that I have taken from the beginning. Just more evidence that this disease varies widely from person to person.

The one thing that these veterans with MS and I have in common is that we've had to deal with issues that most people do not have to face until old age. For example, I was only 30 years old when I had to use a four-point cane after an acute exacerbation. Later, I had a walker and then a wheelchair. I had to learn to think of these objects as tools and not symbols of my declining condition. The same acceptance process was necessary with my bladder issues. I needed to make the decision that it was preferable to wear paper underwear to staying home where I would always have access to a bathroom. People often tell me about a parent or grandparent who doesn't want to make the kinds of accommodations that I already have. While I understand their desire to stay independent, they ultimately become a prisoner of their own stubbornness. Plus, I don't feel badly for someone in there 80s who is having difficulty walking or controlling their bodily functions. I've already been through all those things and you don't find be complaining (except on my blog).

I even read an article in the MS Society's Magazine several years ago about this very subject. The article told me what I already knew, people who have lived with MS are better prepared to deal with the natural process of aging. Taking that into consideration, I really am "differently abled."

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