On Monday, my husband Mike had his bi-annual appointment with his neurologist—it was the follow up appointment after his yearly MRI. I’ve lost track of how many times we have sat in that office. Enough times now that I notice a couple new pieces of art on the walls and recent school pictures of grandkids on the doctor’s desk.
The first appointment with the neurologist was a day after Mike was released from the hospital after a series of issues that began over Christmas 2014 that subsequently led to diagnosis in January 2015. A three-hour MRI at the ER on a Wednesday morning, then holding my husband’s hand and trying to hold myself together. When the ER doctor came back and said, “I don’t believe in beating around the bush with this kind of thing, you have multiple sclerosis.”
And then they sent us home. A handful of paperwork and follow up appointments, our world turned upside down, trying to function and still be at the bus stop to pick up the kids by 3 p.m.
And following a life changing diagnosis? Mike put in two 12-hour work days, and we were back at the ER on Saturday, and then a three-day stay at the hospital.
Over and over we heard, “it will be a new normal,” and honestly, that made me mad. We liked our “old normal.” They tried to say it like it was comforting, while they were dropping off paperwork for how to apply for a handicap placard, and available vehicle adaptations. My husband races cars, the only vehicle adaptations he was interested in were ones that would shave a couple seconds of his lap time.
Mike pushed himself through recovery, but we didn’t know what to expect. Recovery came in pieces—it was one night at home after watching a movie when Mike stood up and said, “I can feel my foot.”
But normal did come. A month later, he was back cutting firewood in the back yard. By April, we were visiting friends in Mexico, and Mike was diving off the boat and swimming in the Sea of Cortez with the kids. By May, he was racing again. He is amazing. He pushes himself too hard. Some days the reminders of over doing it are harsh, but he won’t stop pushing.
Here’s to all of you who battle to push forward to normal. Here’s to being grateful for good days, and here’s to holding onto one another on the bad days, because those are normal too.
I wish that I could tell me three years ago, and anyone going through the same thing now, that you will find normal again, but it will be your old normal with some changes. Some days are hard. But some days there is a feeling of such contentment, just making dinner, listening to school stories and just having a normal day.
We will work to keep making things better, we will travel, and we will follow our dreams. We will not only deal with what we’ve been given, but we will take this life that we’ve been dealt and live it to the fullest.
Last week some normal stuff happened, there were long work days, home repairs, and school events. Also, last week, Mike’s specialist said, “no changes” when he looked at the MRI results. He used words like “stable” and “no disease progression.” Last week was a fantastic normal week.
Last week some normal stuff happened. And last week? Last week was a fantastic week.