Coming off the results of my latest MRI I should be ecstatic and yet something is troubling me. I still don't feel like I did pre-MS. Yes, my health is less predictable and I tire easily. Yes, I get more stressed and anxious than I used to. Yes, my vision isn't what it used to be but that's not the real issue.
Last night I was at a surprise 30th birthday for a friend and I was hanging out with the birthday girl and some of her friends. Somehow they got to talking about how they still didn't feel grown up despite their age and in that moment, I realized that I do feel grown up. I don't just feel grown up, I feel old.
This realization was another big reality check. Right before I was diagnosed my husband and I went to Vegas to party. At that time it was fun to know that I looked great, I could stay up most of the night and I had few responsibilities in the world. We had long resolved not to have kids, primarily because we didn't want to have all that responsibility and we didn't ever want to grow up.
I know now where my thinking changed. Until early last year I felt invulnerable. I was fit, healthy and young-looking for my age. I imagine it is common to believe that you won't lose your health or suffer any major life-changes outside your control. That is exactly how I viewed things. When I learned that I had MS, I couldn't even believe it. Even now it's hard to believe that I'll ever get really ill or have to quit working (maybe I won't). On the other hand, I also know now what it is to feel vulnerable. I no longer assume if I feel sick that I'll just get better. I also no longer have the confidence that I used to. I don't dream or look ahead much anymore. I know that this will need to change so I can be truly happy but one MRI has not done the trick. I don't think I can go back but I need to find ways to move forward to.
If someone were to ask me what the hardest part about having MS is I think I would tell them that it is the mental and life adjustments that are the most taxing part, not the physical pain. This is probably a little different for everyone but for me the daily battle with my own mind is really the hardest part.