happy new year

by tinglyfeeling on January 4, 2010

nyeneedlecropEveryone talks about the new year like it’s a chance to start over, to learn from mistakes of the past year and become a wiser, healthier person. This year, we tell ourselves, will be better. This year, we declare, I’ll live the life I should be living.

It’s all a sham, of course. Like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. Why should we be better partners or daughters for just those days? Same applies to the new year. It’s just another day–nothing really changes–so why do we care so much? Why do we think the year, which is just a number, giving way to a new one in the calendar also grants us a fresh start?

Because we need to. Temporal markers don’t just help us keep track of the days, weeks and months, but they give us something to look forward to. If our current calendars didn’t exist, we’d invent some other way to mark the time. We need to be able to track our own progress. It’s just human nature to plan and reflect based on milestones.

When I think back on the last 10 years, which seemed to go by really fast, I have to think of all the things I’ve learned about being an adult. In 2000, I had my first real post-college, career-type job. I was a technical writer. I hated it. I was living in a one bedroom apartment in a building where the movie Singles was filmed. I stayed there for eight years, changing writing and editing jobs several times, trying out new relationships, making new friends. I tried new things like snowboarding and therapy. I grew up. I watched as my parents got older, my own gray hairs multiplied, family members died, people left. I moved out of my apartment and bought a condo with a view of the city.

Two years later, it’s 2010 and I have Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve probably had it for at least half of the past decade. I just didn’t know it, assuming the tingly feeling was just nerve damage from repeated ankle sprains.

So as I approach my next personal temporal marker–my second anniversary of living with MS is in March–I realize that in terms of living with this disease, I’m a toddler. I’m just figuring out how my new world works. I don’t know what’s best for me. But I’ve learned a few things in my short life with this disease:

  • Fear is the enemy–even worse than the MS. Don’t say “I can’t” before “I’ll try.”
  • Know when to slow down. Fatigue is a bitch and I should do my best to avoid wearing myself out because there is no second wind.
  • The weather can be a big jerk. Pain comes with cool, wet weather, weakness and tingling comes with humid heat. Sudden barometric changes trigger symptoms.
  • Whiskey, not vodka. Red, not white. For some reason, the whites make my skin prickly. I think it’s a sugar thing.
  • Too much sugar = instant crash. Too much salt (yum) is also a bummer.
  • Yoga rules, and not just for physical exercise. It’s mental and emotional exercise, too.
  • Bike rides rule more than yoga for both exercise and clarity. I <3 my bicycle.
  • I’m in charge of what’s next, even if I don’t know what that is yet.
  • The biggest thing I’ve learned, so far, is that MS is not the central focus of my life. I’m lucky and grateful for that. So now, I’m looking forward to leading my team for the next MS Walk, taking a Spanish class in February, travel, more yoga and maybe a martial arts class (why not?), friends’ weddings, organizing my living space and figuring out what I want from my career.

This is just what comes to mind now. I’ll add to this list, or make a new one, as I think of more. What’s on your list? What have you learned in this past year and your time living with MS?

Happy new year to you all. xo

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  • http://www.claytastic.net/ Laurie

    My diagnosis is all of 13 days old, so I don't know how much I have learned so far except listen to my body and take it is easy when I am tired. Having just gotten back to work, I will now be able to test how well I am implementing these lessons. So far, I agree on the yoga and fear thing. It's too cold to try out the biking. Great blog BTW.

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com tinglyfeeling

    Wow. 13 days. Or, I guess, 14 now. I'm so sorry. It probably doesn't even feel real yet since the news is so fresh (although I still cry occasionally when the realization that this is really happening hits me).

    Yeah, I think listening to your body is more important than listening to doctors, friends, family and especially, the internet. Only you can know how you feel. Take it slow, pay attention, take notes if you have to. There's so much new information to digest and so many new sensations–some real, some imagined–to keep track of. It is a trip.

    Thanks for reading and please keep in touch if you can. Take care… xo.

  • greenandchic

    “Fear is the enemy” is something I learned too this past year. Not just with having MS, but with all aspects of life. Its nothing like a chronic illness that forces you to be more thoughtful of how you live your life. Happy New Year to you!.

  • http://www.ubervu.com/conversations/www.tinglyfeeling.com/personal-history/happy-new-year/ uberVU – social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by tinglyfeeling: Happy New Year and happy #MSMonday! New blog post, reflecting on what I’ve learned, so far, about living w/#MultScler: http://bit.ly/8KGq8D...

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com tinglyfeeling

    Totally. Still easier said than realized, though. It's an everyday effort, not letting fear get the better of me–in MS and life in general. I've been thinking a lot about the things I've wanted to do “someday,” and I've only just realized, at age 34 (boo hiss), that “someday” is “right now.” I am a professional dilly-dallier, though, so I'm going to have to work extra hard to get my butt in gear. :-)

    Hope all's well with you, Carla. Happy New Year!

  • greenandchic

    Yes, “someday” is NOW, not when I retire at 65 (which is less likely with a chronic illness). I decided this past fall that if I'm feeling better, nothing was going to stop me from weight training again except – me. I now hit the gym four days a week. Ill slow down, take a break or stop if I cant, but now I can. What's stopping me but me?

  • greenandchic

    Yes, “someday” is NOW, not when I retire at 65 (which is less likely with a chronic illness). I decided this past fall that if I'm feeling better, nothing was going to stop me from weight training again except – me. I now hit the gym four days a week. Ill slow down, take a break or stop if I cant, but now I can. What's stopping me but me?

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