What do Multiple Sclerosis and Christmas Have in Common?

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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16 thoughts on “What do Multiple Sclerosis and Christmas Have in Common?

  1. Yep, the crowds & the noisy confusion do a one-two punch to me. Saps the spirit right out of me.

    One thing I like to do late, late Christmas Eve is to go outside on my porch and enjoy the quiet stillness of the night. I think about the past, the future, my blessings and loved ones who are no longer alive. (I know, it sounds like “The Christmas Carol”)
    Just a couple minutes is all it takes–but it grounds me—and gives me frostbite to boot!

    Have a tremendous Christmas!

    • Thank goodness it is not prevsorsige, but you will have to learn how to manage your life and when to say no. MS will stress your body and you can probably bet you will get fatigued neurologically and could have one good day and feel like trash the next day or so. Try to pace yourself in your activities and if fatigue becomes an issue you may have to find other activities that give you exercise but don’t over tax you. I only know MS is different with everybody else, you will need to find out what triggers some of the MS episodes that you have. Extreme weather of being too hot or too cold can be very taxing to MS patients, that is why a lot of them move to the NW like western Washington as the climate is cool in the winter and warm in the summer versus the extremes.I have a different neuro disorder similar to MS and I feel for you. Enjoy life and plan your life to ensure that you get the rest you need and when you start to tire, realize that is a sign that you have done too much and try to rest as soon as you can. By driving yourself to do more, you will only make things worse take it from me I drove myself literally into the ground.It may interfere with your work attendence that is why you need to stay healthy but rest. I don’t know how that will translate with your job, but your life has changed and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Do what you can and when you can and have no guilt. MS is different on everybody, has different symptoms for each person depending upon the part of the body that is being attacked, so to speak. I hope you don’t get the fatique and learn what your short comings are and to use that knowledge as a framework for your life. There are physical therapy is some cases that help, medications although baclofen can be really raucus on your stomach is you are having spasticity.Take care and good luck, check the web sites and see what is out there for more information. There may be something that works for you. Was this answer helpful?

      • Yes- it was helpful and thank you so much for your encouragment, kind words, and awesoem advice! Thank you too for checking out the blog. Please share it with others if you think they may get a smile from it. My very best to you and your family!

  2. Live life to the fullest. My moethr was diagnoised with multiple sclerosis when I was 8 but she had the progressive kind and was in a wheelchair after a very short period. She first shut out the world.( my dad died suddenly when I was 3 and she never remarried). She truly did not let anyone in our house for two years. We had people that we paid to keep the house up and go to the grocery etc and I took care of her, walked to school and would come back and take care of her for the rest of the day and throughout the night.After about two years of being mad at the world she finally accepted the disease and started letting people come visit and going to church. Her motto then was Don’t worry, be happy and It is better to laugh than to cry . She did not take her physical therapy for those two years and I truly believe that caused so much atrophy (muscle wasting) to her body. I know she was totally depressed but in the long run it hurt her. Again I say live life to the fullest.There are so many treatments out there now that weren’t available 30 years ago. Clay Walker has MS. Neil Cauvto from Fox News has MS. So many productive people have MS and live full lives. Just remember to pace yourself and listen to your body. When it tells you it needs rest then YOU REST. Keep stress to a MINIMUM. Stress can actually trigger an episode or take you out of remission. Try to find your local MS Chapter and talk to other people your age that have recently been diagnoised and those that have had the disease for awhile. They will all be very helpful. By the way do you have dark hair, blue eyes and med to fair skin. I don’t think there has ever been a study done but I have noticed that about 75 % of the people diagnoised have this in common. God bless you and your family. I will pray for you. Keep your head up. By the way she died of lung cancer,not from any complication of the MS. Was this answer helpful?

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story. It must have been so tough for you as a child and I am sorry for the difficulties you and your mom faced. I agree that there has been many helpful discoveries to help people with MS cope better and thrive among debiliatating symptoms. It must have been so tough for your mom but it seems that she learned attitude is a big factor. It sounds like once she was overcome her fears and depression, things became a little easier. I did learn that lesson early on and is one I want to continue to share. The sadness and fear will be with us always as the illness changes and is unpredictable. But when we can move past those emotions a bit, life becomes better. I agree to about resting and trying to live a low stress life. Laughter helps there too. Thank you so much Jahan.
      PS- I have brown eyes but all the other factors you mentioned.

  3. Yvonne,

    I just found your site & am LOVING it! The above post hit the nail right on it’s head! What was once such a joyous time of year for me, has for the last three years been the ulimate drag. I guess mostly because of what it once was. But I do love your last statement “where it matters most, they are what you make of them.”.

    This last year I tried my hardest to focus on the reason for the season, it made it somewhat better. Just knowing what I use to do, and now watching my family do these things simply because I can’t brings with it sorrow and guilt.

    Next year, more early planning, perhaps then I can feel more part of it, than just an observer. And I will DEFINATELY do much more on line shopping next year.

    Thanks for all your funny stories!


    • Thank you so much Terrie! So glad you visited and liked what you saw! Please come back often and share. In the meantime, I hope you are having a healthy, humor filled day!

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    • Thank you Verlene- if the posts help you smile then I say it is well worth the time! Life is too short to read boring stuff…

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