When you are diagnosed with MS, you get all kinds of consolation prizes from pharmaceutical companies like binders (think wedding planners) and throw blankets (in case you decide to decorate your house in MS orange decor). I was like, "Ok, umm cool. So, where do I put these again?" Everything was a blur then, so I humbly accepted and said thanks.
I aliken these Welcome to the Club gifts to the toasters one gets when they come out as being gay? I never used them, but I felt too bad throwing them out even though, essentially, they were garbage. More stuff to collect dust. It took a few years before I threw my binder and blanket out. Useless stuff aside, there are some very cool things I've collected as a result of this disease.
The greatest gift was a chance to tap into a huge part of my life that was undeveloped before MS-I was a writer! Who knew? MS led me to leave teaching, to start a little blog called Ugly Like Me about my journey. This led to me blogging in now 97 countries within three months of starting my blog, authoring a children's book about MS called Zoe Bowie Sings, Despite All Sad Things, and being asked to speak as an advocate for MS patients at conventions like Drs 2.0 & You in Paris. Some days I wake up, scratch my head and ask myself what parallel universe I'm living in-this is MY life?
Don't get me wrong, it's unglamorous, it's painful, it's anxiety ridden and self-deprecating at times, but I have beautiful people in my life because of MS and writing, wonderful people who tell me to keep reaching, keep stretching until I reach my goals. I can't say I would trade this in for the world.
I can say MS sucks, but there's something about hardship that really taps into who you are and what you are capable of-I never thought I could write, let alone a book. Let alone a novel. Sadly, sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us realize we have nothing to lose and we go at life with a certain tenacity we should have done the moment we left high school. I guess better late than never? It still isn't easy, but what do we have to lose? Life isn't easy no matter what you do or don't do, no matter what you have or don't have.
I do have my faith and sometimes I feel like the universe hands you a big wad of crap and says, "Here, make PEACE with this. I dare you." The challenge, for me, in this life will always be to make peace with whatever I am dealt.
I had to get MS to go for it. I had to lose everything to get my life back, ten-fold. In a very strange way, I had to get this disease to LIVE. I was living before MS, but I was robotic. I was dutiful and going through the motions like 95% of the human race was. I couldn't see beyond the tasks, the bills, the obligations in front of me. I had to get MS to REALLY live, at all costs. Today I feel, I fear, I love, I smell and taste with all my being. I also have an immense capacity to love and respect humanity. I've met so many people on this journey who demonstrate a resilience and faith in the face of the harshest adversities. I dare not complain about mine. Because of YOU, I blog and try to write about the positives, the hope.
So, it's a huge honor that my little engine that could, my humble Ugly Like Me blog about my journey with MS has won Best MS Blog 2104 by Healthline. Never in a million years did I foresee this being more than me just thinking out loud, on paper.
I was just thinking out loud out of desperation. I was desparately sad over my MS, soI started to type. I've been typing ever since. It's kept me afloat. It's connected me to you. When we are diagnosed with a disease, quite often we feel like we are plucked up from society and our comfy little chaotic lives, and plopped down into a boat (an abandoned pirate ship looking thing) and kicked out to see, alone.
Floating and alone was how I felt before I started this blog, despite two babies and a husband and a boatload of students.
This blog was my lifeline-you pulled me out of the isolation of illness and back to land. I was thirsty and drinking from a half-empty cup. You took it and returned it to me half-full. I am forever in debt to YOU, and I thank you for this honor. To all my friends in sickness and all kinds of adversities-thank you for reading and talking and connecting with me, for pulling me back to land.
I did receive a check for winning and it was donated to a cause that will help the working poor and women in particular. I do not want people arguing over where it went. Just know I prayed on it and gave what you gave me BACK in the best way I knew how. Thank you for giving me the chance to give back. It is incredinly healing and God it feels good. Thank you.
Congrats Ugly Like Me, you saved me. Writing is healing. People are healing. Thank you Healthline.And remember my friends, "The human spirit is stronger than anything that could happen to it." George C. Scott knew his stuff. God bless you and thank you all again.