Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fears, anxiety and … action!

This is a guest post and it is written by my friend Dan Dignann, who has been living with MS for some time and always maintains a great attitude and perspective. I hope you enjoy what he wrote. I certainly did.

Fears, anxiety and … action!

I don’t know about you, but I never asked if I could be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis  .                                  

It was like my doctor had mysteriously turned into a street thug and sucker punched me, leaving a mark that seemingly is going to last a lifetime. I never saw it coming.

Blindsided, the grief-stricken thoughts swirled around my head: “What do you mean, ‘I have MS?’” “What the heck am I going to do?” “But I didn’t do anything.” “This is so unfair.”

Would you believe that a line from the Hollywood movie “Tombstone” actually inspired me to move forward?

I always have loved this movie about Wyatt Earp starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot and Bill Paxton. In case you haven’t seen this 1993 film, according to IMDb it is about, “A successful lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.”

The line that inspired me comes from a scene early in the movie when Wyatt Earp, played by Kurt Russell, gets in a standoff with Johnny Tyler, a local bully of sorts played by Billy Bob Thornton. Earp smacks Tyler several times, and with each smack Tyler comes back with empty verbal threats of retaliation.

Earp calls Tyler’s bluff: “Are you gonna do something? Or just stand there and bleed?”

For as much as I cried and for as angry as I got following my diagnosis, I realized that I either could wallow in my fears and idly let the disease control me, or I could transform my fears into taking action.

Remembering this line from “Tombstone” I called my own bluff and took control of my life with MS.

I started by learning as much as I could about the disease, taking better care of myself through diet and exercise and investigating possible treatment options.

Taking such actions gave ME the agency in this newfound relationship with MS.

Did any of the more than 2.1 million people worldwide ask to be diagnosed with this chronic disease of the central nervous system? Um, I doubt it.

But how empowering it is to realize that there is so much that we all still can control. It all starts with attitude. And in the 14 years since I was diagnosed, I’ve realized I am the one who determines whether I let the wicked disease or my positive attitude have the starring role.

So, who are you casting as the lead in your life with MS?

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

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