Getting diagnosed with a serious illness is nothing like you see in the movies. At least, it wasn’t for me. You didn’t fall over or burst into hysterics.
Not at first.
I remember staring blankly at my neurologist when said, “You have multiple sclerosis.” I turned my head toward the window and stared at the sky while I tried to process his words.
Multiple sclerosis. It’s not possible. I’m only 27.
But of course it IS possible.
His office felt like a pressure trap, and I was a young woman living someone else’s life. When he handed me the stack of drug materials to research, I stared at the 5 binders in my arms. He patted me on the back and gave me a few empty words of encouragement. “You’ll do fine. I’ve been a neurologist for many years and most people do not end up in wheelchairs. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be. I see you at age 75 walking, even if you are walking with a cane.”
Of course, my mind still reeled from the fact that I now had a “seriously scary illness.”
How does one learn to cope when given such a life-altering diagnosis? It wasn’t until I reached my car that I fell to pieces. I remember calling my husband and sobbing into the phone. Tears blurred my vision until I thought I’d go blind. The pain of the doctor’s words coursed through me. It felt as though knives pierced every inch of my skin and my heart refused to beat.
Was I going to die? Go blind? Become paralyzed? Or worse yet, suffer so much that I’d wish for death?
Fear is a tricky beast. It takes a hold of you: grips you with its claws until you become immobilized. It’s a terrible feeling, and yet, you fall into its grip over and over again until you are comforted by its habitual routine.
I sat and stared at the empty cars in the parking lot; I wished that my every breath would somehow heal me. All of my confidence, all of my faith in the future, was left shattered in the doctor’s office: shattered by four words.
I cried the entire ride home.
When I arrived, I curled into a ball on the floor and waited.
I waited to feel a semblance of hope.
I waited to believe that everything would be alright.