I remember watching movies with the sad endings wondering “what would I do if I knew I only had months to live?”. Everyone has probably wondered that at some point in time, however, I never would have imagined I’d be exploring that idea at the age of thirty when I was given a terminal diagnosis.
Several months prior to my diagnosis, I had experienced excessive numbness and tingling in my hands and legs. Some days the tingling would last for an entire day, then one day it just didn’t go away. I began to have trouble walking and started to struggle to hold objects which made me decide to go to the emergency room. That’s when my life changed forever. I’ll never forget hearing those three letters: A.L.S (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). As the doctor started to explain how my muscles were becoming weak which was impairing my physical functions, all I could think was “Lord No, Not Me!”.
I remember thinking about how brave the dying were in the movies. I wanted to be brave like that too, but, I felt the complete opposite when those words were spoken to me. Once the initial shock had gone, it was all about moving forward. What was the point of crying or being sad if I didn’t have long to live?
The loneliness was a feeling that I couldn’t bare to reflect. I kept my diagnosis a secret so that it didn’t upset anyone which made me even more overwhelmed with loneliness.
My reality was having to hold back the tears and intimate conversations about death itself. I feared death! I wasn’t ready to know the end date that would be placed on the stone that shadowed my grave.
The acceptance was the toughest aspect of it all especially for me. All would have to accept me no longer being “me” and me one day being absent from holidays, graduations and weddings. The photographs I would not be in, only memories.
More than ever before I wanted to enjoy family, however, the inability to work and help out quickly created financial stress, mental stress and eventually contributed to my complete breakdown. The secrecy of how critical my time on this earth was began to emotionally drain me. The idea that I would be leaving my children behind was very painful, even unbearable especially with unfinished parenting. I began to find the loss of purpose difficult.
Knowing my time was going to be short was my reality, but not others. Keeping my prognosis of twelve months to live to myself made waking up everyday devastating. As I counted down the days, I had to make the most of it.
With six months to live, I was depressed, financially burdened and tired of the struggle to live with this diagnosis. All I could do is get on my knees and began to thank God for blessing me with another day.
Over and over again, day after day I prayed. At my next doctor’s visit, I will never forget the look on my doctor’s face when he tried to explain the reason I no longer had A.L.S. My heart-felt restored! I was going to live!
My A.L.S was considered misdiagnosed and for the last five years I have been a survivor of M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis). Although my diagnoses is still terminal, it has been a changing point in my life and I am glad for it. Losing the innocence of expected longevity helped me make the most of actual living. As a terminal survivor Fiona stated, “I realized I preferred a short life lived well, than a long life lived badly”. I had discovered what really mattered to me: God, family, and making the most of life while you have it!
To all my terminal survivors never lose faith in your purpose to live!
The Slayed Blogger