I measure my progression of this disease by what MS has taken from me...and given me as well.
My first go round was at the age of 17 when I lost part of my vision for a while. I gained appreciation for how I took things for granted.
At 18, transverse myelitis affected my lower half and digestion. I lost part of my intestine, some liver function and stability in one hip. I gained respect for what I put into my mouth and its consequences and some more appreciation for taking things like independence for granted.
At 25 another round of transverse myelitis took away the life that had been growing inside of me for 4 months; as well as any hope of ever bearing a child again.
I gained a deep appreciation for the support and love that two people can share in marriage.
When I then lost the feeling and use of my legs for a time, that appreciation of support and love grew deeper and expanded to include many others. When I regained the use of my legs, I also gained appreciation for the ability to assist others with compassion.
At 33, MS took away the ability to ride a horse beyond a walk (I was an avid and competitive equestrian up until then). When it also took away the ability to walk on my own for a time, I gained the ability to find pleasure and true joy in others' achievements.
Between 40 & 42 this disease took away the belief that all the answers to physical problems could be found in science. I gained a deeper faith & certainty in spiritual matters.
Most recently, along with the physical debilities that have been ongoing for the last 2 years, MS took away mental clarity for a while. I gained a deep appreciation of fear and hopeless despair; but through that experience, a deeper sense of compassion and understanding for others came forward.
In looking back and also forward, it seems that it is true that we often don't appreciate things until they are gone, but I also think that we sometimes miss the opportunity to appreciate and build upon what may come in their place
With love, Erika