The Secret is Out

I kept it all a secret. Working in a highly competitive environment, I didn’t want anyone thinking I couldn’t do the job. But I was working in a medical setting; they, above anyone else, should have been empathic. I decided I couldn’t take the chance of being seen as inadequate or damaged.

I’d learned that hard lesson of being dispensable  when my employer at the time of diagnosis wanted to cut me out of the company health insurance. That was before the Americans with Disability Act, but still, I understood the value of staying hidden.

It was invisible anyway. MS remissions can be quite complete. And so were mine. There were times I even thought there was nothing going on anymore. No symptoms. Still, I always worried that I’d be blind-sided by a sudden flare-up. Memories of those days in the hospital when I was confined to a wheel chair were only too vivid.

But then there were those fabulous days; remission would kick in and there was no stopping the improvements occurring at lightning speed from one day to the next. I was lucky enough to have a good job that allowed me to take a sick day when I felt tired. Also, lucky enough to have no children to take up my time when I needed to focus completely on myself.

I’m proud that I managed my working life after diagnosis, twenty five years of it, without disclosing.  Even though the law was protecting me. My initial goal to remain ambulatory and remain employable had been achieved.  Then came retirement.

I adjusted to this new life and went on, looking and feeling healthy. I’d seemed to leave it all behind. But then there was the natural deterioration brought on by aging. And when a final attack resulted in loss of balance and leg strength, I felt like I was being outed, unmasked. Now, I needed a cane. I was no longer invisible.

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Oh, the Pain

Oh, the pain that wrecks my joints
That’s the arthritis

Oh, the plugged up head that makes me huff and puff
That’s the allergies

Oh, the wheezing and coughing that blocks my breath
That’s the asthma

Oh, the weakness in my legs that makes me have to sit
That‘s the MS

Not some life-threatening conditions,
only inconvenient, life changing beasts
that keeps me busy each day with
pill popping, exercise duty, symptom watching.
Hoping for consistency.

Why didn’t I realize it when I was young and healthy
that this very moment was the best time of my life.
Enjoy it because it’s all downhill from here, is a common refrain.
One I didn’t really hear until it’s engulfed me.

But then comes adjustment, acceptance, actuality.
I assume what I’ve been given.
I look at what I have and find my plight is better
than what others must endure.

Now I’m pleased to be able to walk two blocks.
Now I’m satisfied to get one chore done each day.
Now I’m fortunate to be able to do yoga with a chair.
Now I’m jubilant to have a housekeeper do the bending and reaching.

Looking at the have’s instead of the have not’s.

 

 

 

 

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