Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The dangers of lamenting the past

Oh great, I just hit some combination of buttons with butter fingers and just erased about 5 paragraphs! Shit. Oh well, I'm retired, I'll just start over. Anyone that reads this blog knows how I'm uber diligent about trying to make sure I don't fall into any of the mental and emotional traps that having MS puts in front of you. And since writing it down is so cathartic for me, I'm going to talk about it! As some of you also know, I was the 40 something guy in REALLY good shape. I had never really let myself get out of shape since high school wrestling actually. And once I got diagnosed, I went into overdrive with it with the running and working out. So with that frame of reference comes some good energy. I was always the guy who'd do the physical task that needed to be done. If it was play with the kids while everyone else relaxed; I did it. If it was mow the lawn and work in the yard day, I'd do that to; after 6 or 7 miles of course! So BFD, what's that mean now? Well it means I still have a hard time just watching people just BE. Just standing in the sun, or walking around at an outdoor festival or whatever. It makes me jealous, and we can't have that. It serves no purpose. Actually it does, but it's not a good purpose.

So I'm sitting at mass Sunday morning and I feel that pang of envy just watching other dads messing with the kiddos in the back of church as they got ready for their first communion. Yes, I'm catholic. Me and God are cool. Me and religion on the other hand.... Suffice it so say that going to church saves me loads in tuition. I am not against it at all for sure, but I just struggle with church personally. If only there were a Native American church and school in Dayton! But I digress. I can get green with envy doing almost anything where there are people walking and not actually thinking "hey, this walking shit and me deciding when I'm done is awesome!".

So here's where I state the obvious, but like I said before, writing is so cathartic for me. No amount of lamenting and hand wringing and thinking about what I used to be able to do is going to do shit. I mean really, isn't that obvious? Well yes it is, but it doesn't keep your mind from going there. But it serves not one, single, solitary positive purpose. The only purpose is to slip you into thinking about what you can't do anymore. And since that 'anymore' is probably final with progressive MS, what freakin' good is that? Answer: no good at all. I mean if I'm going to be happy I have to be OK with where I'm at. Notice I didn't say I have to LIKE where I'm at. Pardon the french, but that would be fucking impossible. If you like MS, you are whacked. I hear those "it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, it puts my priorities in order" lines and just shake my head. Brother, you must have been pretty screwed up then. Well I wasn't. I loved my life. I was very vital and definitely squeezed life pretty hard.

But what's happening in the here and now IS my life. It's what I need to move forward from or I'm only moving backwards. It's not the life I'd choose, but I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. It will require diligence, of that we can be certain. But I can't continue to look on able people with envy. It is 180 degrees opposed to me being happy now. And why can't I be happy now? The only person in control of that is me; I can be happy. But not if all I do is bemoan the past.

And in the grand scheme of things, it could be a hell of a lot worse. I can still do everything required to live a normal life. Now the definition of normal is where that gets fuzzy. But I can still walk, make my own food, clean and feed myself and I do have enough walking chops to go to the grocery for a short jaunt, or caulk four new windows (I did that yesterday :-)). No I can't go running. No I can't enter a racquetball tournament. No I can't sit out in 90 degree heat for an hour and be OK. But BFD, right? I mean the things that have been taken away are decidedly not things that are required to thrive. As a matter of fact, they probably defined me too much. I mean did it really matter that I could beat you in a foot race, or that I was ranked in racquetball in the state of Ohio? No it didn't. It sure seemed to at the time and I'd love to still be golfing and playing, but damn, I can still walk. It is so cliche to talk about getting back to 'the things that matter'. I hate that shit sometimes, but here I am in the middle of it now and I know what they are saying. It's true.

MS is a disease of almost constant re-calibration. NOT doing so is the destructive part. If you don't recalibrate from time to time with what you can do then all you are going to do is lament the past. And you read the title, right? HaHa! Seriously, I absolutely hate re-calibrating because all you're doing is resetting your frame of reference to constantly diminishing ability. But the alternative is sitting in the corner in the fetal position or taking anti-depressants. You all know I'm not that guy so I have to say good bye to Lew the wannabe athlete. I mean really, beating ass in racquetball never did make me a living, it just stroked my ego. Not that I didn't enjoy that, but it's not what makes you really happy because you lose that stuff with age too, but you never lose a good mindset. Not if you are into mental maintenance. Let's go Wings! Down 3-0 and forcing a game 7, they are GOING to win the cup damnit!


  1. Re: "the best thing that ever happened to me," I couldn't agree with you more. You might find interesting my post on this very subject. In two years, it got the most comments ever and it was linked most frequently in other blogs.

    As for constant recalibrating, that's a perfect way of describing it.


  2. I also hate the recalibrating thing! I seem to be doing that more than I used to... And MS is not the best thing that ever happen to me!!

  3. Great piece Lew!
    And I hope you're right about the Wings beating the Sharks.

  4. AMEN BROTHER...Ironically i sat through first communion myself this weekend, and yes its a bitch watching the other dads do things that were once a breeze..Our Wings failed us! Good season but Babcock taught that guy too well I guess..

  5. I check out your blog from time to time but not as much as I would like to but today I found some time and energy :^b

    First of all I do agree with a lot of what your saying. For a while I went through the "best thing (for lack of better terms) that could have happened to me stage" and when I say FOR LACK OF BETTER TERMS I mean it as I am sure as hell not HAPPY to have MS but I do have to say that I can't deny the fact that MS was a freekin' wake up call for me and helped me realize that "I need to do something".

    Now after a few months of seeing no progress and slowly getting worse it has definitely effected my ability to be overly or even hardly optimistic so lately I have been feeling rather negative towards life but every once in a while I do get a burst of positive energy.

    I try not to focus on what I can't do anymore but then I start to realize that by doing so I am constantly accepting all my new symptoms as "the new normal" which may not be a god thing. It's too soon to tell whether or not I really do have RRMS or if I actually have some form of primary MS so part of me feels like I need to hold on to the past especially when I had one month of symptom free life where I COULD run and go on hikes and what not... But for now since I am seeing NOTHING change it's equally hard not to go "well at least I can walk and make breakfast again".

    I don't know what my point is or where I am going with this, guess I just wanted to say that I feel yah...


  6. Oh and next time you accidentally delete and entire page of writing press "CTRL+Z" and it will undo your last move. It's an invaluable command for someone like me who has super clumsy fingers and does nothing but write!


  7. I love this BLOG and all the wonderful gives me validation I think. This hit me like a huge truck!!!

  8. Yep .. constant recalibrating. It is what it is. Can't change it .. we have to figure out how to deal with it and get on with life. I guess the same can be said for diabetes, ill parents, death of loved ones, etc. etc. etc. MS just blows as it is the giant continual recalibration requiring disease. But I love how very elegantly you say .. boy this sucks, but gotta do what ya gotta do. :)


I've figured out how to get everyone to be able to post on here.