When It Rains It Pours – Living with MS

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

One thing that is always true whether you have multiple sclerosis or not—when it rains it pours. AND just when it doesn’t seem like one more thing could possibly happen, it does.

Well, we can handle the good kind of rain, so bring that on, but the negative side to this can mean a manifestation of symptoms or a flare up, or worse, a relapse. So how do we handle this element of reality while managing our disease? This is the crux of tackling anything with MS, including the “when it rains it pours” moment-be proactive. Take out your rain boots, an umbrella and always be prepared for rain.

After this school year when the kids were getting out of school, I had to go to Paris for work. Upon returning, my husband was flying out for work for a month! I was incredibly tired, my internal clock had no idea what time zone I was in, I needed my treatment, I needed my partner (I missed him so much), I had the kids alone and very little money.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. One thing my closest friends know about me is I don’t sleep alone without another adult in my house. I have tried to face it, work on it, but I still won’t sleep without a friend or parents with me if my husband is gone. If I know there is a grown up with me in the house I will sleep like a baby. On the first night when I needed sleep the most after days of traveling, my friend bailed and didn’t stay over. I was borderline crazy from not sleeping. After three sleepless nights, my mother-in-law came over and read the kids and me to sleep. I was confused because she never reads them to sleep. But I realise now, she did it for me and snuck out when I was snoring. I love her so!

That was the first night, in a long time, that I had slept. I felt like Snow White when I woke in the morning. But then I heard “Pow! Pow! Pow!” followed by two more shots. I saw a man walk through my bushes toward the street that runs parallel to mine. My dog ran to my side, my heart started to beat out of my chest, and I called 911. My children woke to police and guns. All of this coupled with a book tour, work, and familial commitments. I was coming undone my friends. When it rains it pours.

When life gets this way I know now that I have to stop and reflect. It helps me to do two things to manage the MS and my life. The first is to put everything in proper perspective (one that relies on gratitude) and the second is to call in the troops, my support system.

Perspective (Those rain boots I always wanted)

Changing the way you look at things, being grateful for what is in front of you, will alter your world AND your happiness. It will calm you. Yes, my husband was away, BUT I was blessed my husband had the job opportunity. We needed the money. I was blessed to have love in my home and children to take care of, even if they required so much and I was so tired.

The book engagements. How cool I get to even t-y-p-e that worry onto a page. I just got back from Paris! So my inner clock needs tweaking, who cares? I just got back from Paris (I just wanted to say Paris again ) to present my children’s book for kids who love someone with MS! If I listed the good, the blessings verses the truly bad, the good far outweighed the bad. Proper perspective is everything. Attitude is everything.

My Support System (My umbrella)

I also had a great support system in place. Because it was near my next treatment and I was so tired, my right leg was compromised. My mother-in-law and neighbors took turns walking my rescue dog Daisy for me. Daisy is the size of a horse. Walking her is tough whether the right side of your body is compromised or not. But no worries, people love to help. I also enlisted my mother and friends to stay over on different nights. I literally had a calendar in my kitchen and penciled in dates and back-ups in case someone didn’t show. It was fun for the kids and I slept better knowing I had adults with me. The best medicine for me, when my symptoms are kooky, is to sleep.

The hardest for me and my MS is to ask for help. It just always felt like it was infinitely cooler to be the giver than the taker. But there’s strength in letting someone help you. That was a big lesson I had to learn though the course of my MS. Swallow some humble pie, and ask for help when you need it. I tell my 4 year-old that all the time! Oh the things we can learn from them!

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