I received my key last January when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I can't believe it's almost been a year. Adjusting to my "new normal" has been a roller coaster ride beyond what I could ever imagine. I do have to say that there have been many ups though, and after a year I've come much closer to accepting my diagnosis. Part of accepting it was trying to go back to work as a full time fourth grade teacher in a public school. I had to take from January thru June off and missed the last half of the school year. This summer I told myself I was going back to work in August. We all thought I could do it. More importantly, I had to try. It felt so good to be back at school. I knew it was where I was supposed to be. Little did I know it would only take me through the first trimester. I'm now in the process of applying for early disability retirement. This was tough. This would be my twenty-third year of teaching. Tears flowed a lot that week when I had to tell my principal, colleagues, students, and parents that MS was taking me in a new direction.
That was a little over a month ago. Now, I'm in the midst of getting ready for the holidays. I have to say I'm feeling the spirit of the season more now than I have in many years. The extra stresses that teaching brought made for a rushed Christmas and no real down time to drink in all that the holiday season brings. I still wake up each day not knowing what I'll be up for, or not, but knowing that I don't have a stack of narratives to correct, lesson planning, or copying to do before the holiday break helps me breath a heavy sigh of relief.
I have a tremendous amount of support from family and friends, and along with them, my faith helps me get through each day. Quiet moments of meditation, prayer, deep breathing, journal writing, and listening to calm, quiet music are how I start most days. I'm in the process of starting a new MS medication and in this first year there have been no more new lesions or further progression.
So, I have a lot to be thankful for. More than anything, I've learned better how not to be judgmental of others. On the outside, I look great. On the inside, there's craziness happening from head to toe that goes beyond explaining. But, I'm trying to handle it with as much determination and grace as I can muster up. I got MS, but it certainly doesn't have ME.
It's time to pass on my key to a friend who recently found out that her cancer is back for a second time. She beat it last time and she's going to beat it this time. She is one of those people who always has a smile, looks great, and very positive. Knowing what I know now, I'm praying for what's hurting on the inside. I pray that she can use that positivity in her life to shoo away any anxiety that may creep up on her. May her own inner peace override all that may ail her body in the days to come.