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Caz - a woman with pale blonde hair smiling

Some lessons my MS has taught me

Caz Makin

When I first got diagnosed with MS, the bottom fell out of my world. I was given about ten years until being permanently in a wheelchair due to the aggression of my MS. That’s all I could think about day after day.

What I was actually doing was wasting the days I had that weren’t in a wheelchair.

And guess what, I’m still not permanently in a wheelchair. I have to use my chair a lot to get things done or go out somewhere. But I now just see it as a means of getting from A to B. I can still do things. I have to do them differently, but I still get to see things.

On changing my mindset

I know it’s so hard to change your viewpoint on things. I think I used to be a negative person in my younger days.

I know now that I thought it was a means of protecting myself. If I never raised my hopes or aspirations of things or people, I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t get hurt.

Not so. You still get hurt. Things don’t always work out. There are disappointments and painful experiences.

But by turning the dial down on your positive receptor and upping it on your negative outlook, you’re actually spoiling your own time on this planet. Because whatever our circumstances, there is still much to be grateful for. And to appreciate.

On looking for positives

When I was paralysed down my left side and had to have my meals cut into little pieces, and my little 7 stone mum came every day to get me out of bed and bathe me, I didn’t think I had anything to be grateful for. I truly didn’t.

But as I lay on the sofa day after day, I realised I was grateful for my folks who were helping me every day. For my friends who took time to cook a lasagne and drop it off. Or the ones who stuffed me in my wheelchair to get me out every now and again. Then I started thinking about my children who adapted to their new style mummy, without fuss or question, the unconditional love they gave.

And bit by bit I realised the power was within. The choices I made were mine. I could lie there and sob, or I could try and read to my girls, play games with them.

I could still listen to others and maybe help them, I could find happiness in my situation. The choice is yours alone when the cards that have been dealt are a bit crappy. It’s about finding purpose within your life.

On life’s fragility

As I’m writing this I have just found out a good friend of mine has died today. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Shockingly.

All I have done is think about his wife and children. Knowing, as I write, that feeling of their world slip from under them. Choking for breath as their hearts have been ripped open.

And once again it’s a reminder of the fragility of life. The cards we are dealt. He’s gone. I’m not. We’re not.

No, our lives may not be perfect, we may have physical and emotional challenges every day. We may even be exhausted by life at times when things are a real struggle. But we’re here.

We can look in awe at life around us. We can laugh, we can love, we can watch our children grow and our loved ones lead good lives. We can hug. And kiss. And feel. We can be inspired to be the best people we can be and live our life in service to the universe. We can teach each other how to love more.

We can breathe. We can enjoy life’s simple pleasures. No external gratification is needed. Just us. Just this. Just love. Just being. Everyday, just being. Living in that moment, in that single breath you have just taken, bringing you back to now. Right now. This moment is where it’s at.

Are you comfortable? Are you smiling? Are you warm and loved? That feeling right there is where it’s at.

On finding gratitude in this moment

Breathe in, breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Now open them and really see what’s around you and understand how blessed you are.

We have so much to be grateful for but get so sidetracked by external wants and desires. We continually forget to slow down, breathe, bring it back to now. We tend to look at what we don’t have and not what we do.

Everything, even the most mundane task, can become quite breathtaking. You just have to allow yourself to actually realise where you are and what you’re doing and that you’re here. Like, “oh wow, I’m lying comfortably on my bed, in my lovely warm home, in fresh PJs with a cup of tea watching the rain bounce down on my car, my world is just beautiful right now”.

But you can only do that if you remember to live now, bring yourself back to the moment. And be filled up with gratitude until you feel you could burst.

On finding purpose

We’re so lucky. We’re here. We’re alive. Find the good in everything and you will feel the difference inside of you. Find your purpose. Find your gift to give away freely.

We all have a unique something that we bring to the table of life. All of us. And when you find it, use it, give it.

You will begin to find peace internally and the need for external wants, which seemed the answer in the past, slips away as you really realise there is so much more to life than stuff.

And that my friends, is my definition of living with peace in your heart, mind and soul.

Look around you with awe, be inspired and love. Then love some more. You are unique. You do have purpose. You are valued in this world. Find your passion and start from there. You can’t change the world alone, but you can change yourself and what you sow into your environment.

Even when things are tough, there’s always a lesson and a reason to learn and grow.