- Doctors misdiagnosed me for 13 years until my neurologist realized I had multiple sclerosis.
- Christina Applegate recently told The New York Times she will never accept her MS diagnosis.
- I once felt like her, but also now know that acceptance of the disease is possible.
“I don’t think I can do this,” I said to my husband as I lay on the bed, my legs hollow and devoid of any stamina they once had. The weakness had become so overwhelming, consuming my ability to move and leaving me struggling to stand or walk. “I just don’t know how to live in this body forever.” I had no other choice, but this disease seemed incompatible with the fast-paced world we live in.
Before my diagnosis came 13 years into an ongoing search, I believed this disease would get the best of me. I thought I’d never learn to accept this new, disabled body. I thought the life I knew was over. And when a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, or MS, finally came, my already gray situation seemed even darker.
Recently, Christina Applegate opened up about her MS diagnosis. In an interview with The New York Times, she admitted, “Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed.” I get it. I feel her words deep within my bones as if they’d come directly from my own mouth. I remember feeling like I was living in someone else’s body, one that didn’t operate or feel like my own. But now I know acceptance is possible with time.
I didn’t believe my doctor at first
“Wait three full years before assessing its impact,” my doctor said of my medicine as he started my IV drip. “I believe you’ll be doing better in a few years than you are today.” I didn’t believe him, but I marked my calendar, and three years later, I realized he was right.
Current medications cannot reverse neurological damage from MS, but the symptoms can settle like the aftermath of a storm. With the right medicine, lesions can shrink and flares of current symptoms can lower in frequency and intensity. Glimmers of who you once were will start shining through again.
One day I walked a little farther. Then, I biked a little longer. Last year, I went trick-or-treating with my children for the first time. Eventually, I looked back and noticed I’d left the darkness in the past. My future seemed bright once again.
I still have struggles
I still live with daily struggles; I have limitations most will never understand. But when I look in the mirror, I see myself again. I exercise daily. I run errands independently. I take my children to soccer practice. I am a mother again, a role I once thought was out of my realm forever. I may not be running marathons or backpacking through Europe, but I live a full life. I am me again, and because of that, I’m able to accept this diagnosis.
Christina, though it seems impossible at this moment, you’ll come to accept those two letters — MS — at a time you least expect it. You’ll look back and see the power of time. And in that transformation revealing how far you’ve come, you will find yourself again. And when you do, you’ll be a new, more gratified, more content, livelier version of yourself than ever before, because this disease is a battle that forces you to look deep within and to know yourself fully. It shows you the capabilities you never knew you had.
This diagnosis will lead you back to yourself.