Since being diagnosed with MS, what I'm most shocked at (aside from the fact that I actually have it!) is how many people I know either have MS or know someone who does. Until recently, only my brother-in-law had MS in my immediate circle of people, but thanks to Facebook, that circle now includes many more people.
Connections. It has been so helpful to me to know that so many people out in the world - whether in my neighborhood or as far away as Australia - care about me and my well-being. I'm not sure I'd have such a wide-spread support group were it not for Facebook. Perhaps I should title this entry "Ode to Facebook," but in all seriousness, I've reconnected with so many people who just fell away as we moved to the US, after I graduated from high school, left that one job, left that other job, or moved to North Carolina. I'm so grateful for all of these connections - yet, I'm struck by the irony of it all. At the same time that the connections between my brain and my body are breaking down, the connections I'm making outside my body are making me stronger.
I spoke on the phone this afternoon to a girl I knew for a little while in high school. We weren't close friends (although we tried out for cheerleading together - neither of us made it) and lost touch after high school (as I did with many friends despite all the "Keep in touch" sentiments written in our high school yearbooks). We reconnected recently on Facebook and comment on each others status every now and then. (Besides commenting on photos, what else is there to do on Facebook?) She reached out to me after I posted my diagnosis, informing me that her fiance has had MS for a year. How strange and oddly comforting to pick up the phone, call a person you haven't spoken to in almost 20 years and just talk about something that connects you once again.
Thank you, Heather, for offering to share your experience with me. It was so helpful to hear how this disease has affected you and learn what a positive impact it has had on your life.
I know I am changed, but haven't quite figure out who I am now. I look at pictures of myself and don't recognize the girl looking back. Until this afternoon, I looked at her and felt sad, knowing that she had no idea what was in store for her. I will look at her now and be happy that she was able to experience so much in her life. I will look at her now and know that she will experience as much and more in her new life. I know it's possible and with each new connection, I feel rejuvenated.
Thank you to all confirmed connections. I didn't realize just how important they were until they were needed most.