Six years ago, on August 21st, my life changed forever.
Since January of 2013, I had been living in fear of what was inside of me. I had been living in fear of myself. After months of testing and study, I was finally diagnosed with relapse and remitting multiple sclerosis.
The doctors apologized for the news, coming as it did the day before my birthday. I didn’t think it was a terrible thing. It was a gift of sorts. I finally had a name for what was wrong with me. Now that I had a name, I could fight it so much easier than when it was a ghost like foe.
I had to learn to walk and speak again when I didn’t know what I carried within me. Now that I knew that it was, I had the tools to fight him. I knew that I would be battling myself, that it was a battle I would never truly win but fight I would and fight I will.
In order to make the MS easier to fight against, I gave it a name. I called him Max Shadow. I wanted to give him a name that would match the initials of MS, but I had no idea how apt that the name would become. He was indeed like my shadow and I had to learn how to walk with him. I had to learn how to have him walk with me instead of behind me or in front of me. I would not live my life defined by my disability or disease, but I could not ignore it, either.
Along the way, Max showed me what to be thankful for. I began to see gifts in even the simplest of things: birdsong, sunrise and sunset, the joy of a good book, delicious food or the love I share with my friends and family. I didn’t have to be thankful for any big gesture; I could just live a thankful life.
Max also taught me about positivity. If I was going to be thankful about the small joys, I also wanted to embrace positive thought. I knew that I couldn’t wish away the darkness that lived within me, but I could learn to embrace it and properly go through a grieving process of my life as it had been and celebrate my life as it was.
I had learned to sparkle in the dark, so I used that sparkle to my advantage. My stance and my outlook became one of optimism, positivity, gratefulness and thankfulness. I realize that this doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for me. My sparkles ended up being my armour against the battle I had to fight.
While not every day is a good day, I try to find the good in every day, even if it’s just a small moment, a little token of awesomeness amidst a grey cloud. I try to be thankful for every day because I’ve realized that though I am in constant pain, though my symptoms come and go with no rhyme or reason, affecting my movement, speech, vision or comprehension, every day is a gift, no matter what my pain level is at.
Every second, minute, hour and day is a gift. I thought I had died in a way when the MS made its presence known in my body. In a way, I had, but it was more of a shedding away of one life and the welcoming in of a new one.
Max Shadow taught me, though not always in a straightforward manner, to be a better person and a better version of me.
So, thank you Max for all you’ve done and all that we can do together.