Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Our Non-MS Lives

Primary elections took place today here in North Carolina.  After I left the polling place, it hit me how I did something important that had nothing to do with having MS.  Yes, my decisions may have been influenced by having MS, but I was doing something important for all adults, not just those with MS.

One of the pitfalls of having MS is letting it take too much of a central role in my life.  Yes, I have MS, but there are so many other aspects to me too.  I can't let my disease completely overshadow the rest of my life and responsibilities.

Managing my health - One of the biggest mistakes I've made - one that almost cost me my life - is ignoring health issues other than MS.  I ended up in the hospital earlier this year because I had mistakenly attributed my leg problems to spasticity.  Yes, that's part of the problem, but I was ignoring the symptoms of a life-threatening blood clot in my leg because I wasn't thinking outside of the MS box.  There's a reason that MS patients are advised to keep a close relationship with doctors other than their neurologists - we're not immune to other health issues because we've got MS.  I've got to make sure I keep up with all of my medical appointments and make sure I don't get so focused in on treating my MS that I forget to handle the other health issues that come my way.

Citizenship - I voted today.  I can't ignore my responsibilities as a citizen of this planet just because I have MS.  Sure, I may need to use my car more than the average person because of my disease, but that doesn't mean I have to drain all of the earth's resources.  I can still reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Stewardship - OK, there are some volunteer activities I used to do that I can no longer do.  My days of walking a 5K to raise money are over.  And I'm not the right person to call up when it's time to chaperone a field trip.  But there are still ways I can serve my community.  Ushering a church service doesn't work well for me, but I am part of the prayer ministry.  I'm not comfortable committing to regular committee participation, but the head of our health ministry knows that I am a resource.  I'm not the most recently diagnosed person in my congregation, and I'm willing to answer questions, offer support, listen to venting...whatever's needed.  I let that slip when I went to the hospital, so now I'm going to prioritize these relationhips again.

I've also been learning about online opportunities to support causes that only require clicks on the computer.  On Facebook, I virtually volunteer at animal shelters and foster dogs.  After earning a certain amount of points, then advertisers contribute food to animal shelters.  I also go the The Hunger Site, where advertisers donate to hunger organizers if I click daily.  From that site, I can also get to their other sites to support literacy, autism, veterans, and a number of other causes.

I've been told over and over that I'm more than my MS.  These are just a few of the ways that it's obvious to me.

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