MS... IN MY OWN WORDS
By Maureen Reilly
My MS symptoms worsened, and I was soon classified as primary progressive. I went from walking, to a cane, to needing a wheelchair outside the house in two years.
My life changed in other major ways. I’m used to working hard, as a teacher, political staffer and news editor. With MS, I learned very quickly that I couldn’t do that anymore. Now on Social Security Disability, I keep my mind occupied with volunteer work.
Inside my home, I can still get around with a cane or by “wall-walking”. Outside, I find freedom on a scooter or my power chair. I don’t see these aids as a crutch or a hassle. Rather, they are signs of my independence. They allow me to visit museums, aquariums, theaters, all that city life has to offer. I also travel around the country. It requires planning, but is quite doable.
Nothing beats getting out on the water. Before the progression of my MS, I crewed on a magnificent sailboat out of Cape Cod. My disability means I can no longer hoist the sails, but it doesn’t mean I must give up what I love most in this world.
I realize the time may come when I will have to give up the helm and enjoy the ride as a passenger. Yet I’ll still feel the wind in my hair and sun on my face. I’ll still embrace life.
My favorite book, Richard Bode’s, First you have to row a little boat, gave me the title for this essay. His book contains many lessons, not the least of which is to enjoy the journey. So often we fight the wind, struggling to be what we once were. I have learned to go with it and adjust my sails.
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