An MS’er gets ready for the holidays
I can just see you rolling your eyes as you read that line. You are thinking “ok, Yvonne has finally lost it for real. Christmas is a beautiful time of year filled with love, peace and joy. It has absolutely nothing to do with the dreaded illness of Multiple Sclerosis.”
I beg to differ however. Take for example, the lights. I used to love Christmas lights of all kinds, the more, the brighter, the merrier. As I have aged I tend to prefer a simple theme in my light choices, say all white. Was this just because I am now more set in my ways? Am I just lacking in my imagination of lovely but erratic light patterns?
Who knows? But just two days ago I was driving through my hometown when I passed a house decked out five times as boldly as the Griswold’s home in the movie Christmas Vacation. Immediately my eyes began to blink, the dizziness settled like Santa on a rooftop, and my head started to swirl. Too many lights and MS both make my head spin. A brain explosion likely comes next.
Or, take the crowds. There was a time when I enjoyed the shopping. I would happily spend hours amid the other shopping folks looking for the perfect gift. New gift idea on the 23rd, no problem. Back to the mall I would easily go.
Why then in the last few years does the idea of holiday shopping make my whole body ache? The swirl in my brain begins again even thinking about it. Just the idea of the commotion brings the buzzing in whole body noise that does me in for days.
Thank goodness for online shopping even for major technophobes like me. So the shipping costs add almost 50% to the purchase price, at least I can pay them in peace and quiet.
Speaking of quiet, what about the bells? The bells used to be a lovely sonorous reminder of the joyful season. They would attract the goodwill of the masses. Now when I hear bells, I run, which is an amusing sight considering I am happy when I pull off basic walking. See me running and the laughs are yours. And I don’t run because I am too cheap to throw my change in the Salvation Army kettle but because each clang of the bell throws me off. It jars my already jarred brain even more.
The lines for everything don’t help either. At this time of year it seems no matter what you are in line for, humans who never existed are all suddenly in the same line. Need stamps? All fifty people ahead of you are giving Santa a run for his money by mailing tons packages to children all over the world. Don’t they know that’s the big guy in red’s job?
Need a quart of milk? Every shopper in the world does too along with turkeys, ham, sweets, flour, produce, wrapping paper, tape, tinsel and whatever. The masses are coming for dinner- watch out.
Need gas? So does the entire planet. Christmas is coming, must have gas. I have noticed that standing brings on the body aches much quicker than simply walking. But if I walk even a foot away from the line, it triples.
So you see, the crowds, lines, lights, and to quote the Grinch, “the noise, noise, noise” of Christmas bring on many of the ill effects of MS. That is a sucky thing the holiday shares with the illness- the onslaught of symptoms.
The only way to minimize the symptoms in the season is to carve out your own special Christmas traditions. I decorate my tree (or actually asked friends to decorate my tree as the idea of carting the decorations up from the basement was just too overwhelming) with soft white lights that highlight the nativity scene in a calming way.
I shop online a little at a time while playing my own favorite carols at a low volume.
When I do venture to the stores I try to plan trips when I am feeling my best, and take the shopping one shop at a time. If I don’t finish in one trip, I go home, rest and try again another day.
If I hear bells then when I get to my car I turn off the radio and treasure what the sound of bells stands for in the quiet.
If my brain does get buzzing, my head gets swirling and my eyesight gets blurring, I stop, and try to think only about one thing, what is really at the heart of Christmas.
If you are Christian or even if you’re not, under all the commotion the heart of Christmas should be simple peace, love and joy.
So, this leads me to the one main thing Christmas and Multiple Sclerosis have in common. As crazy and overwhelming as they both can be, where it matters most, they are what you make of them.
Have a very Merry and Healthy Christmas!
Note to regular readers- you are not going crazy. At least not right now! The text of this post was originally published here last year. But the sentiment is the same this year. Plus, my time away made me too exhausted to create a new blog this week! Check back next Friday for something new!
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