A columnist shares her springtime thoughts about having multiple sclerosis.
T.S. Eliot’s opens his masterwork The Waste Land with four stunning lines of verse:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
It seems odd to say that April is cruel. It’s the month of showers that bring May flowers, the time when temperatures begin to rise, and the earth stretches and yawns after a long winter’s nap. Things are coming to life again, and all is green and growing.
But for Eliot, this beauty is painful because it’s temporary. It cannot last because spring gives way to glorious summer, only to be overtaken by the sadder seasons of fall and winter. It is better in his mind to remain hidden under “forgetful snow,” and spare oneself the agony of going through the entire painful process time and again.
As a multiple sclerosis patient, I can see the logic in Eliot’s assertion. After all, spring and summer bring warmer temperatures, and if there’s one thing most MS patients can agree on, it’s that heat is a problem. Many of us experience increased fatigue, brain fog, vision problems, or issues with balance. A little sunshine and some jaunty yellow daffodils hardly seem worth all that drama.
However, though April brings its share of struggles, I have to admit I look forward to it. The beginning of spring reminds me to hope, and gives me cause to expect great things. After all, what could be more miraculous than life bounding back? These thirty days encourage me to look around and take stock of things, to once again be grateful for the world around me. It also happens to be my birth month, and at its end, I celebrate another year on this planet by marking victories and making plans for the one to come.
When April comes knocking, I spend time on the back porch, not just cooped up in my bedroom or library. I speak with neighbors until the sun slips down behind our houses, and sit and chat with other parents at my sons’ baseball games. April reminds me that I’m human—not just a person with MS—and that there’s a big world out there in which to partake. Because of multiple sclerosis, I likely will never hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, but that’s no reason to give up on the journey altogether.
Read full article: Spring is an Apt Time to Reflect on MS and Hope
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