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Diagnosis

Good Enough

The years after college were my most confident.
I was praised at work. I was enthusiastic about trying new things. At the age of 21, I was confident and blissfully happy.
I felt good enough.

When I turned 24, I took on a new teaching job that was a bit out of my element, so I studied. I studied my ass off, and presented to the class what I had learned. It was not easy (especially being amongst the hormonal teens), but I was given confidence by all the people who surrounded me.

I felt good enough.

Around that time, my boyfriend and I moved in together. I felt like I could be myself: silly, quirky, sarcastic. It was like the ultimate sleep-over with my best friend.

I felt good enough.

When I went to graduate school in the evenings, I raised my hand to participate in discussions. I worked hard to get high marks. My work ethic was good, especially when I was 9 months pregnant and couldn’t fit in the attached desks anymore.

I felt good enough.

I had my baby. She had the most perfect ears; I remember staring at the tiny swirl, the bluffs and the miniature valleys that formed an impeccable archetype. She was a good baby, but no matter how many books I poured over, I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did my husband.

I was stay-at-home-mom, wasn’t I supposed to know? Wasn’t that motherly instinct shit supposed to kick in by now?

Her pediatrician assured us that she was thriving: hitting her milestones when she was supposed to, but I still had so many doubts.

I felt just barely good enough.

My new position in life was strange because I hadn’t anticipated it. I wasn’t really sure what to do. Should I vacuum everyday? Make a roast? My mom always worked outside the home, so I didn’t have a model. None of my friends stayed home- they didn’t even have kids yet- so I couldn’t commiserate or ask questions. I was alone.

I strived to feel good enough.

I was blessed with another pregnancy a couple of years later, but without the distraction of work, I could really concentrate on how awful I felt. I was nauseated by every smell, tired in the middle of the day, depressed and more alone-feeling than ever. I withdrew, trying to hide myself behind my belly. I went to doctor’s appointments, my toddler by my side, my husband working extraneous hours to be able to afford another child. Or maybe it was to avoid me. Can’t say I’d blame him.

I didn’t feel good enough.

After my son was born, I felt slightly better, but still something was slightly “off.” I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When the doctors asked me questions, everything seemed jumbled in my head. I couldn’t recall memories correctly. I was frustrated and never felt more dumb. I tripped over my own feet and couldn’t walk in a straight line: My body wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. My new baby was difficult. He screamed while my toddler ran in circles around me, holding her hands up to her ears to block out the noise. I had failed her. I was failing him. I was a failure.

I wasn’t good enough.

My husband left me.

I wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t good enough.

 

Forgetting MS

Sometimes I legitimately forget.

It’s 9 am and the moving truck is coming in an hour. I’ve been up since 5:30 and still haven’t finished packing up my clothes. Or- doh!- the basement. I wish I could just power through, like I had planned.
My legs, though, they’ve quit- they up and decided that they’d had enough.
And now I sit and wait. Wait for my mom to get here. Wait for my ex to get here. Wait for my legs to feel up to the task of walking; a task that I’d taken advantage of for the 30 years before I started to show symptoms of MS.

My message is this: don’t take advantage of the things we all sometimes take for granted. The ability to see, the ability to hear, the ability to walk.

Love to all <3

Forgetting MS
My baby, sleeping on the floor, next to one of the many moving boxes throughout the house.

A Letter to One I Love

Hey you,

We have to talk (you hate clichéd phrases, I know, but in this case it just seems like the right thing to say). Simply put, I’m hurt. Irrevocable harm has been done; you seem to have turned your back on me completely. These flaws showed up about four and a half years ago, and, call it intuition: I knew, yet I was still dumbfounded.

I mean, how could you?

And, believe me, I know I’m no saint. I’ve made some poor choices in my life too: I smoked for a time (which, unfortunately did nothing to increase my coolness), I consume alcoholic beverages (my fair share, as well as the fair share of several others), I had a diet coke addiction for a while there (mmm… aspartame), but this, THIS is unforgivable!

I’ve changed, but unfortunately so have you. Some can blame time, blame age. I don’t know. It’s been nearly 37 years now, and you decided to revolt. I loved you… I love you. Please, PLEASE return to your normal, healthy state, and stop attacking yourself.

I promise to be good to you from here on in. You’re my one and only body, and I truly want you to be healthy.

Love always,
me

Something Isn’t Right (Part 2)

“Just be careful. Don’t fall again.”

He was referencing the week before, and the week before that, when, both times, I had tripped, coming down directly on my stomach, landing me in the hospital for test after test. The nurses knew me in the maternity ward now, and I was embarrassed to do it again, unless it was actually go time. I concentrated on my footing as we yelled hearty thank-yous to the elderly couple who stood on their front porch and waved goodbye to us.

“I’m good,” I said to him quietly. Then excitedly, “Ooooh, look! Snickers! Full-size!” It was the little things.

I was looking back, not paying enough attention. Off-balance from my sizable stomach. I fell. Again.

“Oh my God, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said, as I brushed the grass and dirt off. What the hell was wrong with me? “I’ll go to a few more houses and then go back,”  I told him. I looked down at the bump that extruded from my purple sweater.

“You’ll be alright,” I whispered. “Hang in there. I promise to be more careful.”

**********

A week later, just a few days before my due date, a regular office visit with my obstetrician turned into a fast-paced walk over to the connecting hospital. Hunter was born unto this world, healthy as an ox, the next day.

I was actually feeling pretty damn good after the whole rigmarole, and I looked forward to getting my body back in working order.

Finally, I’d be able to walk across the room without fear of toppling over!

Unfortunately, my balance didn’t return. I knew something was going on, after all, balance had been my “thing” at gymnastics class as a kid.

Must just be an old-age-hormone cocktail, I lied to myself.

 

Something Isn’t Right (Part 1)

There were many hours that I spent on the computer during my second pregnancy, tirelessly investigating the type of fruit that the fetus inside me compared to in size.

I needed to distract myself from the nausea and disgusting metallic taste in my mouth that was not unlike chewing on a Duracell. I watched Avery play as I absent-mindedly clicked on an advertisement for shoes. Four-inch heels in buttery teal leather that I could not afford, nor could I even wear without teetering over, but still, I had to look.

I waited for my husband to come home from work so that we could take our little girl out for her second Halloween. We’d help her to knock on our neighbors’ doors and say “trick-or-treat!” and add candy into the pumpkin that she gripped firmly in her little hand. She’d sleep soundly after all the day’s excitement, and then I would pick through the container until I got hold of the good stuff. I could almost taste the peanut butter cups already, and the thought of it made me salivate.

Halloween

In the past, before children had altered our ritual, we would sit on the front patio, cursing under our breath as we attempted to carve faces into pumpkins with plastic tools from the drugstore. Our neighborhood would fill with zombies, witches, and princesses, all with outstretched hands, begging for goodies. We’d oblige, and then, as dinnertime approached, the costumed tykes would begin to dissipate in a fog.

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