Sunday, June 5
Watch friends do the Lake Mills Triathlon. Cry twice. Once when a runner with spasticity troubles runs by. Is it MS? Is it ALS? Parkinson’s? I don’t know. But he trucks on past and I cry. The next when a friend runs by smiling when I tell her she looks like a million bucks and says “This is so, so hard.” Is it weird to be emoting this much on a trail, clapping and cheering for strangers? Who can say.
Tell my dad and mom the radiologist found something on my MRI, a silent lesion near the cerebellum, one so small the neurologist can’t see it. That for me, it feels like three strikes and I’ll go on medication, probably thrice-weekly injections, come August to help slow the progression. My dad asks if the lesions ever get smaller. “Actually, the first lesion has shrunk.” I say.
Dad: “Whoa! That’s just like The Shrinking of Treehorn!”
And I laugh. Hard. Like I haven’t in many days. And all is right with the world again.
I’ve wrapped my head around the injections. But I’m starting to crack under the very idea of having to discuss them. I refreshed my memory about the side effects of the options. Almost all of them include the most common being depression and liver failure.
Did you know that “Depression is frightfully common in multiple sclerosis, so much so that about half of those with the disease will have at least one major episode. Worse, this depression is not the simple result of being bummed about having MS or coping with increasing disability.” (Read more here., Do be forewarned, though. Reading stats about depression, is, well, depressing.)
This terrifies me. I know depression. I remember. I live in its shadow to this day. What arose in the darkest chapter of my life took years to squash back down and I’m reminded often of how shallow it lies beneath. I have a security blanket in the form of a pill I take every day and don’t you dare even look funny at my blankie. Without it, I don’t know who I am.
What worries me the most about this diagnosis and about treating it is how it will change the way I get to interact with my kids. I have made choice after choice to be here, now, with them. What happens now? What happens if I’m too tired, to depressed, to preoccupied with myself? It seems that depression lurks in the malady and the treatment. What is my future and if it includes suffering, who suffers the most?
So, I contemplate the future, and retreat as I do. The house reverts to its natural, disgusting, state. I run and bike in gorgeous places and exercise until I can’t any longer. I binge-watch compelling shows (thanks for the heartbreak, Penny Dreadful.) I sleep until someone pees in my bed to wake me. I plan vacations and write down training plans. I go to movies alone and clap and gasp. I sit in coffee shops and write. I say nothing for days then keep my husband up late and spill it all. And then I get up and I’m better. I watch Mindy outtakes and answer my daughter with a proud “yes!” when she asks if girls can be president. I think about seeing Yellowstone for the first time, and about camping with my kids in the Badlands and seeing the Perseids for the first time.
I think about how far I’ve come and how lucky I am.