Living with MS requires positive attitude

Day by day

Living with MS requires positive attitude
By
LIZ THOMPSON
March 3, 2015

It’s a good thing I didn’t take up dancing for a living.

My daughter has always been good about documenting our family times with videos and beautiful photographs.

Not long ago, she told me she found a video taken of me “dancing” with two of her children — obviously, my grandchildren — when they were very young. They are now 18, 16 and 14. So this was about 15 years ago.

She told me the children realized they didn’t remember ever seeing me without a cane.

“Want to see the video next time you are here?” she asked. “I don’t want to make you feel bad or anything.”

I told her I’d love to see it.

On our next visit, I watched the video and smiled the entire time. I wasn’t really dancing but bouncing to a VeggieTales video with Jacob, then about 3, and Elizabeth, about 2.

That’s when I said, “Good thing I didn’t take up dancing for a living!” while laughing. We all laughed.

In 2000, I was starting a career as a reporter. I didn’t use a cane and didn’t own one. While attending a meeting in downtown Columbus, I fell in a crosswalk on Spring Street. My papers and purse went sliding ahead of me as I lay face down on the street. My first thought was that I was glad I hadn’t worn a skirt that day.

The people were wonderful and helped me stand, gathered my things and a woman with a young daughter walked with me to the sidewalk. These two stayed with me till I caught my breath and took stock of any injuries, which was only a skinned knee. Later I thought about how that woman’s kindness taught her daughter a life lesson in compassion.

Since 1998, I have written this column, the duration of which includes two years in Arizona. I’m typically inspired by life experiences, and this certainly was one to write about. When I wrote about the fall in downtown Columbus, the editor titled it, “The people of Columbus are still picking me up.” Perfect.

And, yes, I bought a cane — a rather funky, handmade cane.

With my day-to-day advocacy for people with any disability, I find a common thread of need that everyone shares, disabled or not: to be treated with respect.

I’m on Social Security disability. Curious, I called the Social Security information number and asked what happens when I’m of retirement age in a few years. “Then we don’t consider you disabled, only aged,” the woman said.

I asked if that meant my multiple sclerosis would be gone then and she laughed. But aged? Wow.

March is MS Awareness Month and I support this awareness together with understanding.

I let people know what I need to safely get from point A to point B without falling: lend me a strong arm or hand up; remove the items from the floor for a clear path; reach that item up high for me; carry my hot drink. These are examples that give others a chance to do something to help, just like the people who helped me in the street when I fell.

But making sure my attitude stays positive makes life more enjoyable. Then hopefully friends and family won’t run the opposite direction when they see me coming their way. Instead, they will smile and ask how I’m doing. MS simply becomes a part of who I am, not the definition of my life.

I have talked with many people also living with MS who really were dancers and physically active in all aspects. Many are parenting young children, which is an active sport in its own right and just as physically challenging as playing some sports. Most have not given up. Instead we adapt.

My first symptoms appeared 45 years ago, but I am grateful I can still move. My middle name became “adapt,” as my MS became more active than me. Some people with MS literally stop moving.

There are more than 400,000 men, women and children in Ohio living with MS.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide. Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not require U.S. physicians to report new cases, and because symptoms can be completely invisible, the prevalence of MS in the U.S. can only be estimated.”

For more information, see nmss.org.

By the way, I still dance but only to slow music when I’m being held in my husband’s arms. No cane.

There are more than 400,000 men, women and children in Ohio living with MS.

 

My grandchildren

My grandchildren

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