Living with MS: A 10-step Learning Program

Bill Brayer

By Bill Brayer

Remember I previously said that no one ever asked for an illness or a disability. One day things are fine and the next day your whole world is turned upside down – “topsy turvy”. So many illnesses, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), change virtually everything. Since MS is a debilitating disease with so many symptoms, no known cause or a cure, people with MS are constantly undergoing changes in the way they live.

You wake up one morning and ask yourself,“What’s the matter with me,” or something similar. When reality settles in, you start the progression of learning to cope and deal with having MS. It first starts with the, “It can never happen to me syndrome.” How often have you seen someone or knew of someone with a serious medical condition but ignored the fact that that could be you? No one is invincible. Take Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for an example: MS does not discriminate; it can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere: Women, men, children, celebrities, and all races at any age. When you are finally diagnosed with having MS, your entire world changes.

MS, a 10-Step Learning Program

Shock. Out of the blue, all of a sudden you have MS. In most cases you either have never heard of MS nor have any idea what it is. It is not MD, Muscular Dystrophy; you are not one of Jerry’s kids.

Anger. Why me Lord, Why ME? You did nothing that caused you to get MS, nor did your parents, even though it can be hereditary.

Fear. All the things you won’t be able to do anymore and what will others think of how you are acting? You could easily give the appearance of being under the influence of alcohol.

Shame/loss of self-esteem. Having to depend on others and developing sexual problems – ED – sexual dysfunction. Things you have always taken for granted being able to do now become next to impossible. Try doing things with your left hand if you are right-handed.

Denial. Not sharing with others that you have MS, trying to hide the symptoms and how you really feel. If they don’t know what you are dealing/coping with, how can they help you? You are only kidding yourself for not letting others know.

Sharing. Who do you tell? (Other than your spouse, who already knows; your children, parents, siblings, extended family members, friends, boss and if you are the boss, your employees; if not married, your fiancé or girl/boyfriend, people you are dating. As my wife often reminds me, I don’t have MS, We have MS. It is a family disease).

Bargaining. For God to make it all go away and you will do whatever he wants you to do. You will give up everything you aren’t supposed to be doing.

Depression. (Withdrawing from society, hiding away, drinking more, taking pills, suicide is not an option – don’t even think about it!

Acceptance. OK, you have MS, now make the best of it and continue to do what you can still do and don’t dwell on what you can’t.

Moving on. Reach out to others and get involved. MS support groups can serve as a resource to learn about and socialize with others who have MS and share how they deal/cope with it. Life is still a journey; you just have to take a different road to get where you are going.

Bill Brayer is President of MSHH Helping Hands and operates the MSHH Donor Closet, which recycles durable medical equipment (DME) & mobility equipment (ME) to people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and others with special needs. The Donor Closet is located at 409 Howell Way in downtown Edmonds behind Petosas. You can reach Bill at 425-712-1807 or by email at [email protected]


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