A Magnet of Hope

IMG-20140713-02150I had submitted this to the Reboot Your Life anthology for Chicken Soup for the Soul. It wasn’t chosen, unfortunately.

However, now I get to share it with you! I’ve been sitting on this since January of this year and now you all get to read it. I’ll be posting it to this blog and my MS/CP blog Two Steps at a Time.



I was  lost inside of myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I had recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after months of trying to figure out what was wrong with me. For months I had been unwell, but it was a magnet that my mother had given me that brought me back to myself.

In January, I was misdiagnosed with Labyrinthitis. I had fallen down the back steps of my apartment building the week before. The fall was jarring and I was bruised. The doctor thought the Labyrinthitis was caused by this; its a fracture that affects the inner ear. It can be caused by head trauma. It causes dizziness, vertigo, nausea. He was wrong, though. It was much more than that.

I just woke up with it. I went to sleep on December 31st 2012 and I was fine, I woke up on January 1st 2013 and it was as if I was in someone else’s body. I could barely stand and the whole world was spinning around me. After sleeping again for a few hours, I woke and I was still the same. I knew that something was wrong.

I got myself to the doctors and could barely hear him when he told  me that it would last anywhere from two to four weeks. Then the Labyrinthitis would go away on it’s own.

I couldn’t go to work and I wasn’t able to watch television or read. I couldn’t write and there were days I could barely walk or stand. Other days where I could hardly see. I listened to audio books when I wasn’t asleep. I was essentially bed ridden.

Somehow, I pulled myself up. I got better enough to go back to work, to get back in the world. It had been three weeks.  Three weeks of being barely able to walk, of sleeping all the time, of not being able to do simple things. Three weeks of being lost in my own body.

When I went back out into the world, I did so with the aid of a cane. The left my face was frozen, even my taste buds and I was deaf in my left ear. I thought I’d had a stroke and just didn’t know it. I fought and willed myself to get better; or better than I was. It wasn’t an easy process.

When I stated getting better, I tried to prove that I was okay, that I was fine-but I knew I wasn’t the same person, I wasn’t the same anymore. My face unfroze little by little and I waited for the four weeks to be up, for this temporary sentence to be over. Then four weeks stretched into five weeks, then two months.

I wasn’t any better though. Now it had been almost three months. Each day was a struggle, Then I lost the ability to write. I’ve written all my life and that was taking away my hands. Then I lost the ability to speak properly. I could hear the words in my head, but I could only say three of five of them to get my point across.

That’s when my mother stepped in. I left work and went to the emergency room. She stayed with me for the whole six hour stay. I was seen by a neurologist and booked for a battery of tests. It was April when I found out what had been wrong with me all year.

When the doctors told me I had Multiple Sclerosis, I thought: Thank goodness, it has a name; now I knew what it was and I thought I was okay with everything at first. I was holding up-but eventually, I got too  lost in thoughts of: what would happens now? What is my life going to be like from now on?

By the beginning of May, I’d withdrawn from everything and everyone I knew. I went to work, but I couldn’t do what I used to be perfectly capable of doing every day. I came home to my cat and held her while I went further and deeper into myself. I was consumed by what my life had become. My mother would call it brooding-apparently I’ve been a champion brooder ever since I was a small child. It wasn’t brooding, though. I was lost. I thought long and hard about taking my own life.

In June, I was making a passable attempt at cleaning when I saw it. A few years ago, my mother had given me a magnet. It was a small circular piece of glass and someone had put a saying inside of it. It had a bright yellow background and six simple words: my life is up to me.

Just six simple words and they were like an epiphany. It seemed so simple: I could sit and wallow and wonder what my life would be like now, or I could get busy living it. I could bemoan the fact that I got Multiple Sclerosis or I could accept it and what was to come, no matter what it was.

I knew that’s what had to be done and that I was strong enough to do it. That yellow magnet from my mother was like a beacon in the darkness of the Labyrinth and into the light.

By the time I got my official diagnosis in August, I was ready, come what may. I knew that my life as it was had changed. It would now be a life filled with difficulties and hardships, but it was my life to live.

All I had to do was get out there and live it.

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