Just under a week ago, my partner Ken was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. With his diagnosis came a brand new to-do list: tell family and friends. Contact work to talk about options. Make appointments with a specialist. Look into treatment.
For me, the diagnosis also came with a new list of daily tasks. Until Ken’s relapse is over, I am by his side to help with the little things that he used to do so easily. My list includes: Tie shoes. Open pill bottles. Help shave. Cut food.
These new tasks are a challenge and an adjustment. But worse than all the items added to our to do lists, are the ones the diagnosis seems to take away. Our travel dreams are on hold. His plans for work are being adjusted. So are my hopes for graduate school. Who knows now where we will live, and what this means for our life together?
For days, I walked around slightly dazed, mourning our sense of normalcy and the future we thought we had.
And then, last night, I got an email. My godmother reached out to me to offer me comfort and guidance. At the bottom of her message, she gave me another list. But this one was different. It was balm for the soul.
“Lean on those who love you.
Ask for help when needed.
Cry when you have to.
Find a way to laugh and use humor…
Eat good food.
Enjoy and relish each other’s company.
Say “I love you” more than you used to.
Look for blessings and seek peace.
Pray. Believe. Pray.
Make new positive memories.
Look for silver linings.
Be FEARLESS in the face of challenges.
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
I couldn’t read it without crying. It was exactly what I needed. So this morning, I made Ken breakfast and a cup of coffee, sat him down, and together, we made our own list. All the things we will and will not do in this new phase. All the ways we will not let this diagnosis dictate our lives. The Post-Diagnosis Happiness Manifesto.
We will keep smiling.
We will talk openly.
We will laugh more.
We will not make decisions out of fear.
We will love each other, even when it’s hard.
We will still aspire to great things.
We will be kind.
We will not be victims.
We will not let the little thing get us down.
We will create beautiful things.
We will be grateful.
We will enjoy.
We will appreciate.
We will not give up.