Diagnosed with Astroids

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One year from today, an astroid known as The End III will collide with earth and destroy everything on it. FAKE NEWS of course, but let’s pretend for just a moment that it was true.

            How would you react? What would you do if you found out your future was not going to be as you expected? How would you live your remaining days on earth? How would you prepare for the end? Would you max out your credit cards and throw a millionaire style mega party? Would you lock yourself in your house, draw all the shades and hide in the corner of the attic? Would you cash in your retirement and buy a yacht? Would you stop hanging around certain friends and spend your last year with just your family? Would you make amends with your ex and crazy neighbor? Would you wake each morning angry and depressed, or would you be eager to accomplish as much as you could in the short time you had left?

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Getting diagnosed with an incurable progressive disease that often leads to severe disability is not much different than hearing about a fatal astroid colliding with our planet. In between all the doubts and questions is the fear and anger that comes from such shocking, life-altering news.

I have lived with Multiple Sclerosis for two decades. Although it has been twenty years since I first had to face the realization that my life and expectations for the future would change forever, I will never forget that fear, anger and depression that soon followed. An astroid did indeed collide with my planet.

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The first couple of years after getting my diagnosis were spent preparing for the end of the world as I knew it. I sold my small business, my motorcycles and prepared for the worse. I told all my close friends and family that the fun was over and I was destined for a life of disability and despair. My life and the future I had hoped to enjoy were about to be crushed by an unavoidable disaster and I had no means to control it’s course. Any dreams I had of enjoying retirement later in life were shattered. I believed I would never make it to my golden years, and if I did, I would be physically unable to enjoy them. I certainly did not throw myself a block party during the first few years after getting my diagnosis.

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Eventually, after getting on a disease modifying treatment and having little disease progression over the first five years, the fear and anger subsided. I realized I could possibly manage the severity of my disease and slow down the progression and level of my disability. I didn’t expect my disease to go away, but I learned to live with it by taking care of myself physically and mentally. I learned how to make the best out of what having MS presented.

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Better yet, I began to see how getting such a diagnosis made it possible for me to do some of the things I wanted to experience sooner than later in life. My MS diagnosis gave me special permission to live each day as if it might be my last. Knowing each good day was a gift, I tried hard to make each one count in a positive way. This is how I have managed to continue living well for two decades. So well in fact, I often forget to worry about the future!

There are no guarantees in life, and astroids do happen. Life is short, so try to enjoy the ride.

Longhaulpaul

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