Sunday, August 16, 2009

What is 'normal'?

What is 'normal'? I throw that word around a lot, I think we all do. We constantly compare ourselves to those in the world around us on the basis of 'normal'. Do we look normal? Act normal? Is this behavior normal? But what really IS this normal we are all trying to achieve and measure up against?

I find myself debating that this morning. Today is day two post steroid infusion. I slept last night, though a rather fitful restless sleep. I feel pretty decent today overall, though having just choked down my taper dose of oral steroids has me a little jittery per usual. I think I'm watching myself, my body, entirely too closely again. I can't help it though- I keep looking for signs of hope. But what am I hoping for? Am I hoping for this 'normal' we all aspire to? Sadly... yeah I think I am. For as good as I feel today overall, I'm a little sad, because I don't feel what I perceive as 'normal'. Maybe it was wishful thinking, maybe it's because I AM an "MS Noob" being only a little year into my diagnosis. Whatever the case, I was really looking at this latest Solu-Medrol infusion as a silver bullet, even if only a temporary one. Last time, I did feel what I perceive as normal afterward. For me, the word normal means very simply to feel like I don't have MS. And as I sit here now, with my left arm feeling weak and my hand giving me issues typing, my face still tingly and burning, I know this is not the normal I am searching and praying for. I still feel like I have MS.

What I am realizing, and continuing to learn over and over it seems, is that my 'normal' will never be again the measuring stick most healthy people aspire to. In fact, I am realizing my normal doesn't exist. There is no normal, can be no normal, when your body changes so greatly from day to day depending on how angry the monster called MS lurking within it is.

I took a break mid-post and did some running around with my son. I find if I get out before the heat of the day is bad, I do pretty well. As most know, Multiple Sclerosis and heat do not mix. I call it "insta-weakies", because the minute I start to heat up it's like every muscle in my body turns to jell-o instantly. So, Joshua and I ran and picked up some scripts, got him a donut and me some coffee, went to Kroger, then ran by my mom and grandma's house for a visit. My mom and her husband moved in with my grandma a couple months back. I have to tell you (and yes, they do read this so I'm sure they'll laugh), my mom and grandma together are quite the comical pair. They bicker and pick on each other endlessly, then they both look at me to take their side against the other. I just laugh at them. They love each other very much, but man those two are like 'The Odd Couple'. Two grown women, both set in their ways, and both sure they are the one that is always right. And I am no fool- I know as sure as I know my name, if my mom and I lived together, we'd be the same way. One thing they don't quabble over is me- they both worry about me. Probably too much. Which, as a mother, I understand. If my daughter was in my situation, I'd worry endlessly too. So as I sat drinking my coffee with my mom and grandma, the usual "how are you feeling?" came up. I told them as I posted here, I was a little down that I didn't feel 'normal' after this infusion.

Then my grandma and I got talking further. And it hit me: she doesn't know 'normal' anymore either. God Bless her, she's in her 80's, and the feistiest most awesome lady you'll ever want to meet. But she is old, and as we all know with age comes bodily deterioration. As I sat there trading woes with my grandma, I guess I realized what I had already been contemplating. Normal isn't universal, and it varies greatly from person to person. There is NO 'normal'.

While I know this revaluation to be true, changing my mindset to stop myself from searching from the elusive, mythical state of normal will take some work. So for now, I will find what MY own personal normal is, and strive for simply that. As I do so, I will remind myself that just as there are many out there who's normal is a lot better and nicer than mine, there are also many in this world that will look at my own normal with envy because theirs is so much worse.

As the old cliche goes "Why be normal?" :)

Be well all!

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