by Kristina Marie Dizard
I park my Hyundai in the closest handicap spot I can find at the drug store. It’s got a few dents in it, just like my body does. As I get out I see a young couple walking along the sidewalk staring at me; waiting to see the reason I get the treasured VIP parking spot. I admit I disappoint upon first glance, if you’re expecting me to look “disabled”.
You won’t see me limping often, but I must walk slowly. You won’t see me with a walker, but I hold onto carts with a death grip as though they are one at times. You may not see my blurry vision, severe pain, weakness or other quiet and mostly invisible symptoms, but I make no apologies for your judgment. You see, just because I have accepted the constant surrender and unknown wavering fate of multiple sclerosis doesn’t mean I have given up.
It’s hard for family and friends to grasp this concept. How can I be at peace? Don’t I want to keep fighting? The thing often not recognized by these concerned individuals is that I am. There is not much more I can do after ten years and many medications later. Sometimes the fighting is simply in maintaining peace of mind after a decade has gone by and you realize that at age 33, there will be many more arduous years to come. Can I fight for simplicity of life? Can I fight for peace of mind and better boundaries with others? Can I fight for my right to still enjoy life? Can I fight for my health? Yes. I am fighting, just not at the pace others want to see, and that’s ok. It is, after all, not their fight but mine.
Fighting with a disease that’s left you partially disabled isn’t going to be a small battle, but a war that will span over the remaining decades of my life (or needless to say, until this mythological cure is found). Wars are fought differently than battles, there are strategies, preparations and tactics involved that those that are used to fighting battles do not understand. Those of us with Multiple Sclerosis may climb our mountains slower, however you better believe we still reach the top.
Kristina Marie Dizard has published 2 poetry books: Undefined and Embrace Every Facet, and was diagnosed with M.S. in 2005. Kristina lives in Edmonds, Washington where she advocates for the homeless, enjoys the beach and fabulous book stores.
You can find her online at http://facebook.com/EmbraceEveryFacetKristinaMarieDizard