You know you’re in a deep, deep rut when the words “All the tests came back clear,” doesn’t make you immediately jump for joy. You know you have been touched OUT when you send your daughter off with your best mom friend and $20 and only flinch inside a little before you eat a tub of Zanzibar ice cream and take a long nap. You know you need some real time to yourself when you can’t even stand to have the cat sit on your lap, when you hear yourself yelling at the other cat, “Dammit, SHUT UP Stuart!”
It’s been a very long roller-coaster ride, since December when my thumb first went numb. Apparently, CIS and Lhermitte’s Sign are gifts that keep on giving. I keep thinking, wrongly, that I’m at the end of the ride and that I can move on. I keep having these amazing things happen where I can suddenly feel a contact lens on my fingertip again, or feel it when I accidentally burnt my thumb. Those super-high highs are now routinely being followed by some pretty deep lows. I’ll discover that, just like wine, other great things, like pizza, and sex, make my right side and sometimes my leg, go completely numb. For up to a whole day. I’ll have tests run, to make sure it really is nerve “pain” and not anything to do with stomach cancer, my appendix or gallbladder. And yet, I don’t feel any relief.
Now, because demyelination is not the same for any two people, there are just general findings and when you tell your neurologist about the wine, he’ll say “I’d put that in the interesting category.” You find yourself at A Woman’s Touch, or looking on cancer survivor websites for information on “living your whole life, well.” Which is something everyone should do.
I keep being confronted by “there but by the grace of God, go I” moments. Like, new “less-bulky” adult diaper adverts. Or stories of sudden and complete disability brought on by full-blown MS. And yet, I don’t feel it any more. I can’t wrap my head around my own good fortune right now. I just want a beer, dammit.
A couple of days ago was THE day. The day the world comes alive again in southern Wisconsin, when it’s not just one robin, but seven. Spring! Boom. The day we’ve been waiting for. Thank God it was still overcast, even though it got to 64ºF, and that there was a layer of sand across the gray world. Without that grounding mound of curb dirt/snow/sludge, all of our collective hearts would have risen like zephyrs until they exploded upon exiting the atmosphere.
A friend and her cheerful, gorgeous little elf got my daughter and I out of the house the other day and led us straight to a Great Horned Owl. We cavorted on a beach in the sun! Granted, there was garbage and broken glass and it was really just a little stream, but the sunshine was real. The water in our winter boots was real. I hope in my soul was real.
Another friend called us out to the park and we swang and laughed and watched our urchins run and play. We attempted to get our phones to have sex. There was something in the air.
My husband installed a “goat simulator” program on his computer and regaled me with the hilarious idiocy of what it would look like if a goat tried to run on a treadmill and failed. Or what it would sound like if a goat wrecked a convenience store. I laughed so hard I almost threw up. Absolutely worth the $9.99 price tag.
I started running again, only on a treadmill so far, but I’m looking, constantly looking for that one moment of zen.
All of these things brought me moments of joy and hope that the latest depression would lift and that I could begin living fuller again. Each time, I sank back down.
The uncertainty of the future is weighing on me in a way I never expected. I have a list, a “Looking for Happiness” list that I wrote before my second MRI. When I was first diagnosed as possibly having MS back at the end of December, I was nervous as hell, but I remember more than anything, that I was also happy. Very happy. I’ve tried to recapture or remember what I was doing and thinking then in my list.
One thing not on the list was a strict diet of lemonade, Reeses peanut butter cups (the minis because the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter is better), chips and salsa. Or Chocolate Shoppe ice cream. But we have to try new things, to grow, right?
I swear to you, and more importantly, to myself, that this too shall pass. Next week, I’ll be back in the saddle. I’ll be eating like a grown-ass woman again instead of a grade-schooler on Easter Sunday. I’ll be lifting heavy (okay, maybe a little heavy) and running. I’ll clean the goddamn bathroom. And when my kids ask me to come play with them, I’ll say yes. Yes, I’ll come play with you.