Recently, I sat across from my neurologist in her office waiting to find out the results of several recent medical tests. The numbness in my leg and hands had not improved, blood tests, several MRIs and an EMG test had been ordered and this appointment would finally reveal the diagnosis, at least I cautiously hoped. The months of continued symptoms had taken a toll on my anxious mind and I was desperate to have a name for the foe I was fighting. Her words were not a surprise, I’d already known this was likely to be what the final finding was, but it still took my breath away hearing the words spoken out loud. “You have Multiple Sclerosis,” she said followed quickly by, “but it won’t kill you.”
Almost immediately, the Friedrich Nietzsche quote popped into my head,
“That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”
This has been quoted to me often as I faced challenges in my life. In the past, most of these had been related to my personal and professional life. This is my first challenge related to my health. As always, there is some relief knowing that this new thing won’t kill me. But there is also some anger since I never asked to become stronger in this manner.
It’s only a little ironic that my word for 2018 was “Strong.” I had hoped to feel stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually by the end of the year. I turned 50 in January, had gone through a tough year professionally in 2017 and my youngest was flying the nest. I anticipated a challenging year as I adjusted to all these new things but never imagined the year would end with a new medical diagnosis.
At the moment, my symptoms are not progressing any further but they are not subsiding completely either. The numbness and weakness in my left leg and foot make many everyday tasks more difficult. But I can still work and drive. The doctor has prescribed a treatment plan that must be approved by the insurance before it can start. I’m praying for no further symptoms before that time.
As an anxious person, a new diagnosis brings lots of reason for worry. So my anxiety is a bit through the roof right now. Old coping strategies are being pulled out, I’m sure there will be new ones. In the past, I have processed this kind of anxiety and challenges through writing. I expect this will be the case for this new thing in my life. I have several blog posts ruminating in my head as I write this.
Being open about my diagnosis is a bit scary but I know that one of my greatest strengths right now is my family and friends. There remains a lot that I don’t know about the future (which is kind of freaking me out) but I do know that I have family and friends all around the country who love and support me. And I have a faithful God holding me close even in my weakest moment.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
With God’s grace, my friends and family, MS will not kill me, but it will make me stronger. The fight is on. . .