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The More Things Change …

Columnist Jamie Hughes shares an interesting perspective on 15 years of living with her MS diagnosis: It’s like that old Peter Allen song.

An awesome friend of mine at work who is learning to master Spanish as a second language has been using a podcast called “News in Slow Spanish” to increase fluency in conversation and learn cultural nuances. (And this isn’t the first amazing thing she’s done. Homegirl can run marathons and fly planes. She tutors kids and volunteers to pick up roadside litter in her spare time. Like I said — awesome.)

She started listening to news from 2013 and has now arrived in 2016. Why anyone would want to go back to that tumultuous year of election shenanigans and an excessive number of celebrity deaths is beyond me. (I still mourn Prince and David Bowie!) However, she said that it’s not only helped her with conversational Spanish but also with her perspective on 2019’s current events. Why? Many of the same things that were being discussed three years ago are back (or they never left). So, there’s nothing truly “new” in the news. We get so caught up in the current cycle that we just think there is. Like Peter Allen says, “Everything Old Is New Again,” and that likely will always be the case.

As I enter my 15th year of living with multiple sclerosis, I’m coming to find that what’s true of the news is also true of life with this disease. When I was first diagnosed — when MS was “breaking news” in a way — everything was dramatic. Every phone call, doctor’s visit, or article I read demanded a bright red flashing announcement like the ones you see on broadcasts. “Pay attention!” it screamed. “This is huge! It’s going to ruin everything!” And like Chicken Little, I cowered in my house, waiting for the sky to fall.

However, over time, I came to see that announcements, changes in my condition, or revelations gleaned from an MRI weren’t worth working myself into a tizzy about. Living with MS, as one popular saying goes, isn’t a sprint so much as a marathon. This isn’t a condition that shows up and is cured with a few treatments. (Though, praise be to God, that could one day be the case.) No siree Bob. It packs heavy, sets up in the guest room, eats the good lunchmeat, and uses all the hot water.

My grandmother once told me about two friends who would travel from house to house, staying until their welcome was worn out, then moving on to the next couple on the list. She called my grandfather in a panic and told him, “They’re here. And they’ve pulled all the way to the fence.” That was her way of saying they had no plans of leaving anytime soon. That’s how I think of MS. It’s “pulled up to the fence,” so I might as well make the best of what’s going to be a long visit. That doesn’t mean I let MS rule my home, though. Like any good hostess, my largesse only extends so far. MS doesn’t tell me what I can or can’t do, where I can or can’t go. I refuse to let it take over any more of my life than it already has.

Read on: The More Things Change …

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