Life of Magical Thinking

Still sick with the cold; it’s moved to my chest, which I think is a sign that it’s getting better. However I feel miserable, though I continue to work – proposals and plans for my non-profit clients, new pieces for an exhibition this summer, preparations for leaving for Indonesia soon. In addition to the cold, I’ve been experiencing a somewhat mild MS (multiple sclerosis) relapse. My feet have had the sensation of being numb and sometimes cold for the past month. Recently it’s been worse on my left side – the heel and ball of my foot feel like I’m standing on two wooden pegs and the sensation of numbness is crawling up my leg, first my calf, then knee and now thigh. There’s also the general feeling of just being off, fatigued, and not quite right, which as I’ve learned over the past 7 years (since the first attack) is impossible to truly or accurately describe to someone without the ailment – because I’d never experienced anything like it previously. I’ve been quite lucky in that my experience with the disease so far has been generally mild – odd unpredictable sensations periodically, sometimes my eyes hurt with sharp pains, but most and worst of all are the times that I feel so overtaken with fatigue (again, this is fatigue like I’d never experienced previously so I often find it irksome when I get the response from someone of “yeah, I’m really tired too” – they honestly have no idea, though I know they don’t realize this) and my head feels “off,” which I then remind myself that it is brain damage, so I suppose that makes sense. But I’m also quick to remind myself that the brain is phenomenal at healing itself. There have also been lapses of time when I’ve almost forgotten that I even have this disease because I feel great and have no symptoms.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking more about this episode (that’s how they’re referred to in the medical establishment) because again as I’ve been lying in bed and staring at the books on my table, I remembered that Joan Didion also has MS. She wrote about it in The White Album, but she also wrote a very good essay, After the Diagnosis on her experience with the disease. I’m not sure when she wrote this – it seems like it must have been many years ago, perhaps 5 – 10 years after diagnosis, which is where I’m at with it. The essay is the best I’ve read on the experience of living with MS – it sums up the fear, frustrations, responses from others, and readjustment to the way one with the disease must view life-which I would liken to a life of magical thinking.