Multiple Sclerosis – the insidious thief of a disease that it is – can and has taken much from me. It has taken functions, it has robbed me of strength, and it has stolen stamina. MS has replaced feeling with numbness, abilities with disability, and self-reliance with dependence.
Multiple sclerosis has also changed my vision.
More than just the nystagmus - which can have my eyes shaking in their sockets - or the double vision when I’m overtired or overheated; MS has changed the way I see things.
I no longer see a lot of the ‘big picture’ issues of the world as one image; rather as a mosaic of individual lives and stories. The tapestry of compromise politics I now see as individual threads woven for the good of one person or group over another. I see the underdog not as superhero but rather as the humble shoeshine boy simply trying to get on with life the best he can.
Sometimes I see the journey from bedroom to bathroom as my marathon. Other times I see the simple task of writing a cheque as complex calculus. And always, just outside of my peripheral vision’s ability to focus I see the possibility of my next MS attack.
This change in my vision, brought on by living with MS, has also keenly focused my gaze on the positive things that happen in our world.
I now see how one person can, indeed, make a difference in the lives of another or even in the lives of many. I see the value in the simplest acts of kindness and the worth of every person no matter their relative ability. I see the importance of living with purpose and intent. I can see the results of small groups of committed people trying to change their world.
I also see things differently in the mirror.
Surely the body and face of the man looking back at me is changed by both MS over the years and those years themselves. The body is changed by infusion after infusion of corticosteroids and limited activity. The hair is course and gray (and thinner) after years of chemotherapy to fight this disease. But the smile is a wry, knowing smile of someone who has won the battle of another day and has a plan for the next.
I am not the man I was over a decade ago when I was diagnosed. My body is not the same, my life is not the same and my vision is not the same.
I see shades of gray where white once met black. I see possibility where I use to take success as a foregone conclusion. I see kindness in the smallest places and self-servers in the highest offices. I also see the importance of those who create and hold our megaphone to help us get our words to the world.
I have lost sight of some old goals and aspirations after the mist of multiple sclerosis made them all but impossible to once again find. Now I focus on new milestones, on a future for the next generations and on success in arenas I never thought to play.
Multiple sclerosis has changed my vision. It changes the way I see, what I see and the things I look for. The view isn’t always what I’d like to see in my life. But it sure is better than closing my eyes altogether.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.