Allow me to introduce you to Devin Stratton, a 25-year-old Utah man who captured himself on video accidentally falling off a 150-foot cliff while skiing.
Horrifying, right? He surely didn’t survive and, if he did, he’s probably paralyzed or hooked up to countless machines keeping him alive… right?
Devin walked away uninjured, without so much as a bruise. After falling off a cliff. A cliff!
Meanwhile, earlier this summer, the doctor told me I have a tibial plateau fracture. Did I have a similar cliff-related freak accident?
I tripped over a doggie gate. In my own home.
I can’t even blame it on MS clumsiness.
I heard a pop, and the pain was worse than anything I’ve experienced before—the kind that makes you feel like you’re going to pass out, throw up and mess your pants simultaneously.
I’ve spent a lot of time since then on the living room couch, and I’ve had some opportunity to reflect.
I’m so fortunate that my husband was present for my (not so) gracefully executed accident. He was an absolute necessity to get me off the floor and help me to function in the follow weeks (…and counting).
He has had to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. He has had to help me walk, get in and out of bed and the couch, go to the bathroom, get dressed, bathe, everything. He’s even come home every day during his lunch hour to prepare my lunch and to let our dogs out. Additionally, I was unable to help my mom with last minute preparations and tasks before my brother’s wedding, and I also had to make some difficult decisions regarding my professional dance troupe.
I felt useless and like I was letting everyone down.
And it was frustrating. It was obvious I couldn’t function by myself, but as each day passed, and despite my saint of a husband never complaining, I couldn’t help but feel like a burden.
And one day, seated in the shower, as my husband handed me my just-out-of-reach towel before hoisting me out, I realized:
What if this is what my future holds?
What if, one day, MS takes away my mobility? Is this what it’s like?
If there is one thing I have learned from living with MS, it’s the ability to recognize the learnable moments when I feel the lowest and most unfortunate.
These few weeks of bountiful self-pity and very limited mobility have forced me to pause and remember that I am not a burden. Everything my husband does is out of love. I didn’t choose this life, but he did. And I need to embrace my good fortune and accept that love.
I’ve also had to accept the reality of my epiphany in the shower that someday, yes, I might lose my mobility. Or it could be something else. Or maybe nothing at all. Maybe the ways MS affects me now will be the way my disease forever stays. And you know what? I’ve got it pretty good.
Having MS can consume you with uncertainty, but if there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of, it’s that I’m so grateful for today. Whatever it may bring.
Even if it’s a doggie gate.
This article was authored by Cat Stappas and originally published on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s blog, MSConnection.org, on August 9, 2017.