I’ve been quiet for a while. It has been nearly 10 months since I was diagnosed with Relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis, and it has taken me all of that time to process the news, and adapt to my “new normal.” When I was diagnosed last fall, I was scared and overwhelmed. I had a few anxiety attacks (a new experience for me), and I cried a lot. I had no sensation in my right hand for many months, and as soon as I opened my eyes each morning, I curled up my fingers, hoping to feel them again. I didn’t know what my future would look like – and the truth is – I still don’t. But then again…none of us really knows what tomorrow will bring.
Today I feel well. Like most people, I have good days, and not-so-good days. I tire easily, and sometimes my brain is a bit foggy. (However, don’t most mothers feel tired and foggy?) I experience frequent transient symptoms including numbness and tingling, mostly in my hands and feet. And every once in awhile, I have strange symptoms – like when my face went numb while riding in the back of a convertible – or when I lost feeling in my tongue while eating water ice. Despite these sensory symptoms, I am able to do everything that I did before I was diagnosed. I manage my household, care for my children, teach exercise classes, and lead a large women’s Bible study.
I am thankful that I recovered well from transverse myelitis (which was what landed me in the hospital and led to my MS diagnosis). Two-thirds of folks diagnosed with transverse myelitis end up profoundly to moderately permanently disabled, and I praise God for my outcome. Much like the persistent widow in Luke 18, I will always pray for complete healing and no MS relapses. I will not lose heart.
Just as I did when I was diagnosed last fall, I trust God and His plan for my life. The suffering that I have experienced in connection with this disease is not a random bout of bad luck. It is according to God’s providence, and He will sustain me through it. I am His child, and His plans for me are good, even when they feel bad. I do not doubt His goodness, for I have seen His goodness throughout this entire ordeal. He met me in the night when I was desperate and afraid, and His word was (and is) like cold water to a weary soul.
Although I hope that my medication works well, and I hope that my diet will reduce inflammation in my body, and I hope that I’m taking the right supplements, and I hope that frequent exercise will keep my motor and cognitive functioning on point, and I hope that this disease won’t ravage my body…that is not where my hope ultimately lies. My hope lies in Christ, His life, death, and resurrection, and His eternal promises.
When I opened my eyes this morning, and curled up my fingers, I felt them. After I use them to write this, I will rise and drink my coffee, take my children to the grocery store, and then the park. I will do all of these things with a deep appreciation that I never experienced in the past. I am thankful for sensation in my digits, and for hands and feet that work as they should. I am thankful for God’s sovereignty over this disease, and for his sustenance. I am thankful for the cool fountain of His word, where I drink and find refreshment. I am thankful for my hope in Christ.