Let’s talk about fear. Ah that wonderful emotion that dictates most of our decisions but we very rarely acknowledge. Fear is interesting because even when we convince ourselves it’s not there, it sneaks in from the shadows at the most unsuspecting moment. This is what happened to me this week after a visit with a new doctor.
I’ve touched upon this in other blog posts but just to summarize, my body has Multiple Sclerosis. If you’re unfamiliar with the disease, my immune system can go into attack mode and destroys the myelin sheath of nerve cells in the brain and spinal column which disrupts communication between the brain and the body. The symptoms vary person to person and moment to moment but can include vision loss, fatigue, impaired coordination and function loss. I have relapsing-remitting MS which means that I have “flare-ups” and then go into remission. These flare-ups come and go at unsuspecting times and sometimes I have years without a full blown episode and sometimes they come more frequently.
I have been feeling great in my body for several years which is why some people in my life have never even heard me mention MS in conversation. I really try not to identify as someone with this horrible disease because I don’t want it to be all consuming and I have learned that the more I focus on it, the more it focuses on me if you feel me. But as I mentioned before, I’ve been struggling with some exaserbations for a few months now which led me to find a new neurologist.
I thought we’d have a nice introductory visit and he’d take a look at me and see how well and able I am and that would be that. Maybe he’d order an MRI since it has been years since they’ve peeked into my brain. What I was not expecting from my visit was what felt like a punch to the gut. You see this well-meaning doctor walked into the room and in his thick Russian accent told me that he fully expected to see me in a wheelchair after looking at my charts and brain scans. I don’t know how (or why for that matter) I didn’t melt into a puddle of tears because that’s exactly what I wanted to do. He told me that based on my prior MRI’s that he would’ve thought the disease would’ve progressed by now to the point where I would’ve lost my ability to walk. Holy shit. WHAT?!? My former neurologist never said I was heading in this direction and I certainly never think this way about myself.
But there it was. The fear that lingers beneath the surface. The knowing that I have a disease that could impair my entire life. That with one new lesion on my spine, I could lose my ability to move my body. My body that I love. My strong, beautiful legs. The legs that have carried me across stages and shuffled their way into yoga studios. My legs that so effortlessly now float into 3 legged dog or support me in warrior 2. It’s my livelihood and my grounding to move this amazing body of mine. I won’t be told by someone I’ve just met that I SHOULD be in a wheelchair. I call bullshit.
So I got in the car and called my husband and fucking lost it. I cried the entire 30 minutes home. I could barely get the words out to tell him what that doctor expected to see when he met me. The fear. There it is. The fear is real.
But you see, my husband offered the most beautiful perspective and thank god I was in a space to truly hear it. He rejoiced when I told him what the doctor said. He told me I had defied the odds and that whatever I’ve been doing over the last 5 or 6 years since my last MRI must be working because not only am I NOT in a wheelchair but I’m a damn warrior. OK he didn’t use those exact words but you catch my drift.
And you know what? He’s right. I’ve done things my own way since the last time they took pictures of my brain. I haven’t subscribed to the doctor’s way of treating my disease and instead have taken a holistic approach. I am certainly never going to rule out needing to go a more traditional route and would never judge anyone who does but for now, I am going to celebrate how strong I am and my plan is to keep proving this doctor and the fear wrong. He doesn’t know me and as a wise friend pointed out, he should’ve been asking me what I’ve done over the past few years to treat myself because clearly it’s working.
I’m going to go in the next couple of weeks to get an updated MRI and I can’t help but think that I’m going to be pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can be the one who sees some reversal in this terrible disease. Maybe I can keep defying odds. Maybe the teacher can become the student. What I know for sure is that I’m going to keep doing things my way.