Despair in the Face of MS

Sad depressed woman sitting in her bed late at night she is pensive and suffering from insomnia

There was a time in my life when I opened the door to a bitch from hell towing chaos in her wake.  Before I became a mother, I would think of the joy that motherhood would bring me.  I never anticipated words and emotions like anger, rage, fury, hate and despair.  Despair was the word I fought the most when this bitch from hell called MS came knocking on my door.

I felt anger when my small-town doctor tossed the MRI results at me and told me bluntly, “It looks like Multiple Sclerosis.”  I had gone to see him because I had nerve pain and I was tired.  I had thought it was my fucking diet, not an incurable illness.  I can remember his room smelt of cigarette smoke and I was angry that he was stupid enough to smoke.  Archie was playing with a collection of glass frogs on his desk and I was worried that he might break them.  I stared at the frogs as I whispered to no-one “That’s a degenerative illness, isn’t it?”  My doctor answered “yes.”  I wanted to pick up one of those frogs and throw it at his face so hard that it broke.   They were such stupid fucking frogs.

Anger became my constant companion when three months later I was diagnosed officially by a specialist without a heart.   He was a doctor who helped you die, not to live.  Prepare for medication, prepare for disability.  Don’t do anything proactive.  Just wait and maybe you will be one of the lucky ones.  Fuck you, miserable arsehole.

I raged against the medication whose chief side effects were pain and fatigue.  One day I lay down on the floor for a rest and I woke up three hours later when the kids were walked home from school by their teacher. I had missed the school bell.   I was filled with rage that I was dropping my basket when the last thing I needed was the guilt of motherhood on top of everything else.  I threw the drugs away.  I began to feel better.

A year after my original diagnosis, I had convinced myself that it was all a big mistake.  I was joyously and wholeheartedly reveling in denial.  I was fucking magnificent in my stupidity.  As I sat in the doctor’s surgery contemplating how I would accept his apology, he told me that my disease was active and progressing and I was heading for a wheelchair.  I wished that I could slap him repeatedly around the head with a large dead fish.  I wordlessly accepted the prescription for the drugs I needed to return to.  I hated him wholeheartedly and with an intensity that horrified me.

One night I crawled to the toilet as I was in too much pain to walk.  I sat on the toilet, mesmerized by the amount of blood in the bowl.  There was so much blood that I could not work out where it was coming from.   I was filled with fucking fury as I thought to myself that the drugs were going to kill me.

I was running late one wet and miserable morning and I felt like I was wading through quicksand.   Every moment of my day took a monumental effort and I was struggling with the sheer tenacity of will that I needed to hang on.  The final school bell had rung and as the kids were about to go into the school gate, I knelt to tie up a shoelace.  Kneeling on the footpath, I realized that I had no strength in my legs and I was not sure if I was capable of standing.

I sat on the curb of the gutter and patted them on the legs and told them to go into school.  They looked at me in a strange way and asked me why I was sitting in the rain.  I told them it was because I loved the rain.   I don’t know how long I sat there.  I contemplated a life without movement.  I contemplated being a burden.  I felt despair.

I hated my kids at that moment.  If I did not have them I could have given into the despair.  I could have lay down in the gutter and floated away never to be seen again.  I did not want the fucking responsibility.   That urge to give into the darkness was like an alluring and appealing drug.  For a moment, I had no fight left.

I also loved them passionately and ferociously.   I had a choice.  We are all broken, but it is our flaws that make us beautiful.  I refused to accept that my brokenness was permanent.  I don’t know how long I sat there. Eventually I was strong enough to pull on my big girl undies and make my way home.   I knew that I had a choice.  I threw away the drugs and I mentally sacked my arsehole of a neurologist.

To really appreciate the wonder of hope, there must have been a time when you were without it, when you felt despair.

I chose hope.




Lara Flanagan