What Makes Multiple Sclerosis a Chronic Illness
Multiple Sclerosis, like so many other diseases is a chronic condition. What makes an ailment chronic? Anything of long duration, or subject to a lengthy period, is chronic. Since MS is incurable, it is a chronic disease. Even though the symptoms are of varying degrees and disabilities, the fact that there is no cure, means MS will always be with me. I truly believe we undergo personality changes when confronted with a never-ending chronic situation or disease as well. The following are my top picks in the, You know you have a chronic disease if . . .
"It's been 16 years, but who's counting?" That's what I tell myself, when I'm in a positive frame of mind. It seems the longer I have MS, the more philosophical I become. I can even view MS with a larger degree of humor. I suppose they are two more identifying markers that MS is indeed a chronic disease-you develop a sense of humor about it, and you are more philosophical.
When something is always with you, it is healthier from an emotional standpoint to come to terms with it by making light of it whenever possible. Visit a busy on-line support group, and you will see this coping skill in action. Along with serious issues, there are always posts that look at the ridiculousness of a symptom or of a reaction to a symptom. It certainly eases the tension and stress level when you can have a good laugh with others who know exactly what you are posting about.
Improved Coping Skills
If someone in a sufferer's life is being particularly UN-helpful or downright discouraging, sound advice will be posted, usually followed by some sarcastic, tension-breaking posts aimed at helping the hurt member endure by releasing bad feelings. In such a group setting, surprising suggestions can come about, to teach others what living with MS is all about so, improved coping skills is another identifier that you have a chronic condition on your hands.
Boredom and Endurance
Since I have relapsing/remitting MS, I get to travel the wild roller coaster of sickness and health. I have recently been on a 4 month long ride of sickness, primarily extreme mind-numbing fatigue. Bed rest was absolutely necessary, so I found my computer to be a good companion in combating boredom. By the way, boredom is another feature of this chronic condition, which has to be coupled with endurance.
Having to sit around waiting to get my energy back, or waiting to recover from a flare-up can be excruciating. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the luxury of being able to go to a store, or grab a bite at a local eatery with my husband. I want to clean my house or be able to go up and down the stairs without nerve pain hindering every step I take. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable wish list, does it? Yet when MS flares its ugly head, those things we take for granted when we are healthy seem like Mount Everest-type obstacles when sick.
That is when I have to find contentment with boredom, through endurance.
The word "endure" is pretty cool.
If you have a chronic illness, being able to endure is pretty cool. To endure: "To suffer patiently without yielding." That is one definition and it is my favorite. What makes MS chronic is that you must learn to suffer patiently without yielding to despair, boredom, depression or anxiety. It truly becomes an art form learned by the desire to succeed and to practice until you get the hang of it.
With every challenge I successfully face, my endurance leads to something greater, hope.
For me, hope is the gift I receive from all of my efforts to live with my chronic disease. Therefore hope is also what identifies MS as a chronic illness.
I hope for better days, healthwise, and I hope that my friendships and family ties will stay strong. I can have hope because I've already experienced the realization of these precious things for the past 15 years. I still have real friends, although I'm not able to be the friend I use to be. I still have a great marriage, although I'm not half the wife my husband deserves. And I still have a working body, although it attacks me on a regular basis. Although there is no cure for MS yet, I still have hope that better drugs will come down the pipe-line.
Couple these physical hopes with my long held spiritual hopes, and I have an excellent recipe for enduring whatever MS throws my way.
Acknowledging the help of others is also very important to me and is another way MS is chronic in nature. Help is always needed. I greatly appreciate my family and friends, but I also have tremendous respect and appreciation for total strangers who take the MS cause and make it their own. Researchers, doctors, nurses, patient advocates and plain old individuals who raise money and support for MS projects, are just a few of the helpers I appreciate so much.
Please click on the links of such people right here on hubpages.
I will continue to link to other hubbers who have good information or experiences with MS when their pages coincide with mine.
It is apparent that what makes MS a chronic condition is that it is incurable and unrelenting. Sure there is an abundance of baggage we must tote around when we are diagnosed with MS, but what makes us special, as MSers, can be a lot more positive and inspiring. We can become a lot more than our disease by finding out what is really important in life and living in harmony with that knowledge. We can be determined to make a difference in the lives of those we love by being the best person we can be, whether our physical bodies limit us or not. And we can be an encouraging example of hopefulness and endurance projecting a positivity that allows others to enjoy our company and endure their own stressful situations.
I think in that way we honor ourselves, and even this pesky disease in a weird sort of way. We bring MS out into the open as an obstacle that must be overcome if in no other way than by our refusal to yield to it. In the end, that's a pretty successful life, in my book.