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.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gone, but certainly not forgotten. My “Internet friend”, Vicki

  If the Internet is so impersonal, then why do I care so much.

 I call her my friend. I never met her and only spoke to her on the phone a few times. But when her life partner e-mailed me to tell me that she had passed away, I realize that I cared about her more than I thought.

 Vicki was an extraordinary lady. She was a writer and made a great contribution to the MS community by writing scores of articles for MS Central ( and through her own blog. She also took the time to read other blogs and to comment on them. She certainly did make comments on my blog and I made a number of comments on her blogs and articles as well.

 The comments are great and through these comments, which became conversations, we established a relationship. What I remember most of all is her kindness. That is the one word that I keep thinking of when I think about her. As I think about it, what a great way to be remembered. I can only hope to be remembered the same way.

 When her partner called me I immediately shared a story with him that certainly applies to her. Below is that story.

 “My father told me a story several years ago. He had gone to a funeral and after the service approached the woman whose father had died. He said, "I am sorry for your loss". Her response was "I haven't lost anything. Everything that I ever got from him I still have. I just stopped gaining."

That is how I feel about losing my Internet friend. I can only hope that people will feel the same way about me when my time here is over.

 Goodbye Vicki. You are missed by me and I am certain that you will be missed by everyone who knew you. We have all “stopped gaining”.

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