I am Not My Condition

By September 17, 2017 ePatient

I’m Disabled. Who labels themselves? Feels like crap. I applied for disability. Needed a psychological evaluation. Spent an hour with a psychologist. I spent that hour telling her about the effect MS has had on my life. MS is seriously annoying…. Came out feeling terrible.  “Oh man, I’m disabled. My life has been so disrupted. I can’t do what I once did. Woe is me.” Lost my pathological optimism for a day. I’ve had to train myself over the years to feel sorry for myself. “OK 5 min, feel sorry.” Enough of that. It’s too boring. When I feel sorry for myself my symptoms are worse. Direct correlation.

Lots of people have it worse than me, much worse.  

One of my first nursing jobs was in a Rehabilitation Hospital. I was working with a 30-year-old man who was quadriplegic from a gunshot wound to the neck. He’s practicing maneuvering his wheelchair with a mouth stick. Coming the other way down the hall was a 40-year-old man who had a massive stroke, learning to propel his wheelchair with one arm and leg. He’s slouching to one side and drooling.  His wife, dressed for a night out, follows behind looking absolutely disgusted. My guy turns his eyes towards the other man and says, “Glad I’m not him.” It’s all relative. Each of us has crosses to bear. They’re our crosses. Can’t compare.

Ok, It’s 2 days later. I’m living my life. Writing, speaking, advising, hanging out with my family. Life is good. I am not my condition.  Phew, the pathological optimism is back. That optimism is my magic lever for best health.

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Photo ‘Caught munching on my bronze fennel’ by Diana Beidler Simonton, used with permission.

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