In her latest blog, Jo Cole looks for the positives of living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Now I'm generally a glass half full kind of girl. I try to stay pretty positive. Having a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis can challenge that outlook somewhat, but I do my best. There are many things that MS stops me from doing, but it does occasionally open doors for me...literally in some cases! So here are a few positives to having MS.
1. Car parking
I have the 'magic' blue badge. This allows me to park on double yellow lines for up to 3 hours! I know! Double yellow lines! When friends sometimes give me a lift into town and I show them where to park they often can't believe it. It is very handy. Not least because I can't walk very far so parking near where I need to be is hugely helpful. Once people realise where I can park they are keen to offer me a lift again (and I'm not complaining!) And it's free too.
2. Free carer tickets to expensive attractions
This is very useful! Attractions and venues often offer a free carer ticket with proof of disability. On a trip to Madame Tussaud's this was particularly good as it was 35 quid to get in! However, my dad did 'earn' his free ticket having to help me negotiate the crowds and limited space on my mobility scooter. It still amazes me how I can sometimes appear to be nearly invisible when I'm using my scooter!
3. Queue jumping
Again a handy one for busy London attractions. On both the London Eye and Madame Tussaud's there was fast track admission for me and my party as the number of people on wheels is limited and they need to arrange ramps and lifts. Even though I'm sat down it can still be energy sapping to be queuing, so it's great to be able to save my energy for the fun stuff! We even had use of our own personal lift and got to go in the VIP entrance to one of the exhibits! Theme parks often offer similar schemes.
We recently had a good experience at the O2 Academy in Leeds too. Early admission to the venue to limit queuing and get a decent unreserved seat in the balcony. It's always worth asking the question.
4. Learning to prioritise what matters
On a day to day level, you have to learn to prioritise what is important. If you only have a limited physical capacity then you learn what to focus that on and what not to waste your time on. Yes my condition does restrict what I can do (no more tap dancing for me!) and that can be very frustrating, but there is much that I can still do with some extra planning. And if that means the pots don't get washed til the next morning, the house isn't tidy or our clothes are a little creased, does it really matter?! I don't think so. There are more important things in life than housework!
Now don't get me wrong. I do very much wish I didn't have MS and that I could do the things I used to do. However, I am pretty content with my lot. I don't strive for the flash car, the big house or the exotic holiday. I am grateful for the roof over my head, loving family and friends and for when I have a 'better' day. I don't claim to have it completely sussed and I still have times of immense frustration, but I have generally learnt to manage my expectations and seek pleasure from the simpler things in life.