A few months ago, I came across a video of an interview with an elderly woman named Flossie Dickey. Flossie is celebrating her 110th birthday in the assisted living facility where she resides and the interviewer wants to know her secret to a long life. Flossie’s answer is priceless and it has stuck with me. You can view a clip from the video here.
Flossie’s advice: Don’t fight it. Just live it.
She also recommends taking lots of naps. Maybe that’s why I like her so much. 😊
In all seriousness though, Flossie’s advice really resonated with me. It made me look at the whole MS thing in a new light. Right after my diagnosis, I joined several MS support groups on Facebook and I saw lots of people call themselves “MS Warriors” or say that they are “Fighting MS”. If that works for them, then I guess that’s a good thing but I don’t consider myself a warrior or feel like I’m battling anything. I have MS. I’m not fighting to overcome a curable disease. My body will never overcome this on its own. Realizing and accepting that was key for me.
As with most things in life, I have discovered that MS is a whole lot easier to live with if you just stop fighting it. My body knows what it needs and I can’t make it do something that it is unable to do. Take fatigue, for example. It’s my most bothersome symptom. It’s right there with me every single day, whether I have something fun and exciting to do or whether I need to do yard work or go grocery shopping. The fatigue doesn’t care what my schedule looks like. Although I take medication to help increase my energy levels, I also recognize that I will probably never be the person I was before MS. I can’t go all day, nonstop on 4 hours of sleep and get up the next day and do it all over again. Instead, I organize my days and my life around my symptoms by Planning, Prioritizing, and Pacing. You can read more about that in my blog post on the topic here.
In short, I make sure that I get the rest that I need, that I don’t try to do too many things at once, and that I don’t do things I know will wear me out unless it’s totally necessary and I have the opportunity to rest afterwards. MS is weird. Symptoms that I had 6 months ago can suddenly return one day without much notice but more often than not, the return of symptoms or “flare up” is caused by either fatigue, illness (cold or flu), or infection (UTI, sinus, or upper respiratory). I have to pay attention to what my body is telling me that it needs or wants me to do and then I have to do it. If that means cutting a visit with a friend short or cancelling at the last minute, I do it. If it means breaking out the cane after a long day, I do it.
Whatever you’re facing, try to be more like Flossie. Don’t fight it. Just live it. You can watch the full video here. Cheers!