Sometimes life attacks me. The final week of February, 2000 was a full-scale assault. I took a new position at the company I worked for, my house flooded, my stepson got suspended (again) and my test results from the spinal tap came in.
The nurse called and said the doctor wanted to see me the following day. I said "I'm too busy, can it wait until next week?" (Obviously, I was back to stalling.) She responded by putting a super mean nurse on the phone that told me it could not wait, they had an opening at 10am and it was important I come in.
If you know me at all, you know that I'm a bit stubborn. I don't like to worry anyone and I like to stand on my own two feet. Has all of that gotten me through life so far, yes; do I push it too far at times, absolutely.
I insisted on going to the doctor alone. No husband, no mama, no sister, no friends even though they all offered to go with me. Even today, 20 years later, I have no idea what I was thinking but at the time, it made perfect sense.
When the doctor said "you have multiple sclerosis", I didn't have much of a reaction. It didn't exactly come out of the blue, I'd been expecting it and honestly, I was relieved that it wasn't Lupus. Somehow I'd been more afraid of that diagnosis so, yay for me!
He went on to tell me 1) stay off the internet - there are two websites allowed: WebMD and the National MS Society 2) get a 2nd opinion, it helps with acceptance and 3) there are medications available that might slow the progression of the disease, you'll need to pick one.
I left his office with a stack of VHS tapes and literature to research which therapy I wanted to go with and a flyer about a Walk the MS Society was putting on in March. Arms full and mind reeling, I headed for my car. As I crossed the parking lot, I heard this sound, this sad, mournful, awful noise that broke my heart. All of a sudden, Craig was walking toward me and it shocked me enough to realize the sound was coming from me. I immediately pulled myself together.
He had apparently decided I should not be alone no matter what I said and was parked beside my car, waiting. He helped me put everything in my trunk and then just hugged me tight which almost made that sound start up again so I pulled away and followed him home.
After calmly filling him in about the diagnosis, I decided I had to tell Mama in person so I drove back to work and pulled her into a conference room, still calm and matter-of-fact. Next up was Dick, my boss/dad/friend/confidant/mentor. As always, he assured me everything would be alright and I almost believed him.
My Connie took it the hardest. Turns out Mama had already talked to her so she was in tears when she answered the phone. Inconsolable really, so I had to tell her that I hadn't just been told I had 6 months to live or anything and we'd deal with whatever was to come, together, just like always. I would be okay with her by my side.
The calls to family and friends continued and I never cried, never let anyone know how frightened I was, just assured everyone that I was fine and would deal with whatever was to come.
And. I. Have.