“But you look so good….” For some, this expression can be one of the most frustrating things to hear when you have MS. For me, it is simply someone paying me a compliment and my immediate reply is “Thanks a million…”
Personally, the most frustrating aspect of having MS - is having this progressive illness. No two days are the same nor do they have any predictability. This is where I have tried to take back control of my life and put a bit of manners on MS! Now this was by no means an instantaneous migration and did not happen overnight. It was and still is difficult to make such major lifestyle changes and I am continuously learning each and every day.
Many times, of course it does get in the way, or rather my right leg gets in the way of my left leg. Suddenly the footpath and I are about to become very close friends! But like all things you learn to live with and give yourself the best possible chance of limiting the relapses through exercise, major dietary change, meditation and focusing on what I can do and not on what I may or may not be able to do in the future. I follow the OMS program for all of this.
The great sports phycologist, Dr Bob Rotella has a simple concept used for golf of “staying in the present”. These golfers play their next shot until they run out of holes and then add up their score. I have taken this from my golf and tried to apply it to my illness, simply take each day as it comes and deal with that day. The rest of the days are, for the most part outside of my control.
Since being diagnosed with MS in 2014 and having many experiences since, I have become acutely aware of how well I am in the grand scheme of human health. I have been in hospital for various treatments and have seen people who have much harder crosses to bear than me.
So as a result, I am trying to make myself more aware of when someone is paying me a compliment. I have no idea what that person is going through, yet they have taken the time to think about me and what I am going through by paying me a compliment. The correct thing to do is simply say thank you. If you can add to peoples’ knowledge of MS along the way through conversation, then brilliant. The greater the understanding of what a person with MS goes through daily, the better. You may be in pain, you may be heavily fatigued, and you may not be in a very good emotional place. What I have learnt over the last 4 years is that the person saying that you look good could be in the very same place but for a totally different reason, so saying thank you is sometimes best for all.