This I Believe

Walter - Encino, California
Entered on October 22, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: courage
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One of my daughters recently sent me questions about my life and beliefs, beginning with my initial feelings upon finding out I have Multiple Sclerosis.

Well, “it”—the lousy bastard thing “started” in the dark ages, circa 1965 C.E.

Stinging, flinty feelings in my finger-tips and toes. Sometimes immobilizing. And never, never particularly genial.

Then, in 1973 C.E. there was a turn: While walking in an 18 kilometer walk, I was 32, and after a short distance, my legs felt unusually heavy and I felt uncommonly tired. And to abbreviate my early medical tales, after two not lovely Myelograms, I was advised that I had “multiple sclerosis.” So, what were my initial feelings upon learning I had this thing that I never heard of, that no one in my whole family had ever heard of, that wasn’t caused by anything that anyone knew of…

Well, I didn’t whine or wail…”why me.” After all, it wouldn’t have cured me, it was unseemly and it would have hurt the ones I loved. Also, I know that “stuff” happens, just happens, and it could have been worse (is it logical to say “God forbid?).

And please know that MS changed me a lot:

I’m in a wheelchair permanently. I lost the use of all my all limbs except my left hand ((I was right-handed!). I’ll probably never climb Mt. Everest, walk up the Washington Monument, play pro football or tennis at Wimbledon and perhaps I never will walk, swim, garden, play with my grandkids or dance with my wife/best friend Judy. I used to love to dance, a lot.

And I hate being so dependent for the most elemental things, like getting in and out of bed, dressing myself, using a catheter, taking pills, preparing food, and so much more…

But, hey, I can still be with the people I love and like, I can see pretty well, read, talk until I get tired and slur, write on the blessed computer, sing.

Bottom line…it’s always for me, for everyone …ATTITUDE…a good attitude…

I try to be thankful for those and what I’ve got: my wife, who is my best love, my five terrific daughters, my sons-in-law, my grandkids, my relatives and my close friends.

They all count. Very Much.

Oh, I also get happiness, sometimes great happiness, from flowers and gardens, music, books, movies, architecture, and metal sculptures. Sometimes also football and March Madness basketball.

I don’t think that having MS, this noted “rotten lousy bastard”, has particularly reshaped my values. Still, am I more conscious, more sympathetic to people like me in wheelchairs, of those who have “diseases?” I suppose so, but that may be a natural part of having this thing and/or just a natural attribute of growing older. And good manners.

Oh, and am I particularly special?

No! I just have MS. So, regrettably, do many others.

And I think, quite sincerely, that we should all be nice and kind and honorable…with a tad of humor.

I try…I think.