For the past month, I felt sorry for myself living with Parkinson’s. I was weary from putting on a smiley face and being positive.
Then I got inspired.
Thankfully, what got me out of my funk was reading the article about Meredith Vieira and Richard M. Cohen’s thriving as parents and partners while managing his chronic disease, multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic, progressive, nerve-destroying condition that frequently results in poor balance, limited strength and blindness.
The following tidbits from the article motivated me:
While chronic illness affects the couple’s life, it doesn’t define their life.
The couple adjusts to Cohen’s increasingly uncooperative body with a mix of realism and denial.
Cohen’s favorite coping mechanism is denial –not necessarily of the present condition but of his future.
There’s no point of losing a good day today, over the possibility of a bad day tomorrow. Cohen says, “I deny the certainty of possible outcomes.”
Chronic disease can challenge one’s faith in the future as well as one’s sense of self-worth.
It is important to keep pain and frustrations from poisoning relationships in the family.
Adapting to a chronic disease is a lifelong process. With each new loss of function, the patient and his or her family must adjust to the new limitations.
Families must learn to function without chronic disease monopolizing everyone’s attention. It is important that the family openly discuss the chronic disease but not be obsessed by it.
The course of chronic disease often parallels the indignities of aging. But with chronic disease, the process is accelerated and tinged with cruelty.
Cohen says: “People feel oddly responsible for their illnesses…It makes no sense…”
It is important to focus on what can be changed and controlled in one’s illness, not aspects which are beyond control.
Cohen’s family doesn’t consider MS to be a blessing. However, as a result of growing up around a chronic disease, his children have learned to be empathetic and patient human beings.
I encourage you to read the entire article and also get inspired at:
By Margaret Guroff | from: AARP The Magazine | Dec. 2011/Jan. 2012 issue