The word in itself can cause apprehension and reluctance to bend to change. We adapt in so many aspects of our lives. We customize the blueprint we have designed for our lives and continue to make revisions when the ground beneath us begins to move. For some, this is an easy task and determination to succeed kicks in. For others, the idea of change can be so paralyzing and arduous. Making adjustments for the little things in life is something we handle daily. Grabbing a different brand of coffee creamer because the one we love is out of stock.
Parking farther away when our typical parking spot that is usually open somehow becomes occupied. Turning what should have been an apple pie into an apple turnover because our crust has greatly failed us. These are all simple adjustments we have probably all made in life. But what happens when we are faced with a greater scenario of required change? We knew we could handle opting for the different creamer but now how on earth do we make the necessary adjustment to something as grandiose as a disability or major health diagnosis?
It was my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis that shook my core and gave me an abrupt sense of reality when it came to making adjustments. I got thrown into a world I knew nothing about. I was pulled into educating myself about my new normal and was able to have a label be identified on why my body was doing things that would not be considered “normal”. I believe that this is why we become so apprehensive of change; because it goes against what we constitute as normal.
It’s not “normal” to have a disability. It’s not “normal” to be diagnosed with a crippling illness that may one day make us wheelchair bound. So we are already setting ourselves up for failure in the sense that based on this preconceived notion of what “normal” is, when we are faced with anything alternative, we go into panic mode. By changing what we view as “normal” we not only open ourselves up to a magnitude of possibilities but we also allow ourselves to be more accepting of these changes therefore making us more easily able to adapt in a much more successful manner.
I will tell you right off the bat that there is no magic solution for adapting. This is not a one size fits all product from Amazon. Adapting will be different for everyone. Learning how to find what works for you is half the journey and I think the most valuable. If we find the manner in which making our adjustments becomes profitable to our quality of life we can then look at the final outcome with much more appreciation and reflection.
So, let’s get down to the question many of you may have right at this moment. How on earth do you become happy and at peace with a disability like Multiple Sclerosis? How do you successfully make those adjustments to enjoy a positive and happy quality of life? For me I have grown very comfortable with the reality of being uncomfortable. By knowing and accepting uncomfortability it allows a reduction of “shock factor” when something new pops up with my disability. Also I think another factor that plays into this is that I was experiencing symptoms for years without knowing what was causing them. I was almost desensitized to the reality I was given by not consciously recognizing it. Making adjustments for me looks a bit like this. Let me paint a picture for you.
Learning a new method to get dressed in the morning because you can’t hold your balance. Walking on the right side of pretty much anywhere you go because you are creating an invisible “slow lane”. Knowing when to say no when you are invited to an event that surpasses the hour of night in which you are able to remain physically acceptable in public. Instilling moments of self care daily and sticking to this plan regardless of how manic your schedule is. Educating yourself in ways that will benefit your quality of life. Now come on, I get it. Nobody wants to research the pharmaceutical affects your medication will have on your disability. We would much rather be reading about the reopened case of Carol Baskins conspiracy against her missing first husband as we dive into the last pint of Mint Chocolate Chip Chunk. But we set limits. We do the work and then we play after.
When we begin to view the changes happening with our bodies in a different way, we are able to accept them in a different manner as well. By changing your perception you change the reality in which you are given in the end. If you choose to perceive the new developing lack of sight in one of your eyes as painful and tragic, all you will see is pain and tragedy. It’s the need to change the way we view things. Who said that losing the ability to see in one of your eyes isn’t normal? We are taught what constitutes “normal”. My normal is walking with gait issues and dragging my left leg behind me like a deflated pool noodle. So what do I do? I utilize an AFO brace to help with dropfoot in my left leg and use a walking cane for other days when I want to wear shoes that are not suitable for the brace. I sit down to put on my underwear and pants because I’m basically a human “weeble toy” straight from Fisher Price vintage vault.
The action of making adjustments is only half the battle itself. Having the mindset to view exactly what you are adjusting is where you achieve ascendancy. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have access to. We supposedly only use around 10% the capability of our brains. You’re telling me that this fact, which is backed by some research science study, tells us that we are not able to change the way we perceive struggle and obstacles? That gets you thinking doesn’t it?
Everything about us is normal. Every mobility challenge, every loss of balance, every loss of vision, every new lesion that develops on our MRI scans, it’s all normal. We are made in the image of God the bible tells us. Not that I express myself as someone who knows the bible in and out. That’s certainly not the case and something I do strive to achieve one day. But by taking these key points and breaking them down we can further dive into uncovering the true By being made in the image of God there is nothing about us that is not beautiful. By opening our mind to view things differently we grow to be more accepting of things that are considered to be “alternative”. We can’t expect to adjust to something easily without having a solid change of mind frame to begin with. The change starts with you. Your will and determination to figure out a way of making it work. Knowing how to set a balance of “this sucks” and “im sad” and then put a cap on the pity party to get up and (not in a physical sense) and make it work. What else do you have to lose here?
One can never achieve victory if fear and apprehension consumes the mechanics that are required to move forward. I’m writing this to color outside the lines of what “normal” is. If we change what we define as normal, than when it comes time to adjust to our new normal, we have a better grasp of how to make this transition a lot smoother. There is no normal way of doing anything really. Take a bag of M&M’s for example. Some people dive into the bag without respect for the segregation of colors of the candies. Others categorize them in piles per color. Some suck off the coating first before biting in. And if you’re like me while others are contemplating their methods, I’ve already inhaled the whole bag in a few chews. We are all normal. I just do things a little differently than you might. So find what works for you. Make those adjustments and make it work…because we really don’t have any other choice. So might as well make the best of it and have a blast while doing it right?
Being diagnosed with a neurological disability at the age of 30 is enough to make anyone climb into a hole, curl up and start burying yourself alive. The initial reaction of shock, fear, grief overwhelms us and we are left frozen. Unsure of where we go next. Just saying “it’s a lot to take in” doesn’t even begin to cover the extense impact this moment has on your life. You are thrown against a wall of reality with emotions that contradict one another almost leaving you in a state of sudden whiplash. So what is your next move?
For Brittany Quiroz now known as “A Hot MS” it was a “fight or flight, do or die” moment, as she says in her lyrics via her motivational music. “My diagnosis was a clear indicator of my purpose relieving itself through pain. I knew it was God’s way of showing me what my path was and that I have the chance to impact others.” says A Hot MS. Having grown up as a Singer-Songwriter Quiroz knew that music would always be a part of her life. Writing music alongside her co-writer and mother Kristen Spath for over 15 years, the message she was meant to convey now was more clear than ever. To motivate. To empower. To strengthen. Quiroz now “A Hot MS” has used her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis to impact the lives of other warriors fighting through chronic illness. She is now sharing her story to widen the lense of perception. “When you change your perception, you change your reality.” says A Hot MS. She strives to encourage her readers and viewers to embrace their disasters just as much as their victories and know it’s ok to be a hot mess or (ms) in this case.
A Hot MS is now working as an advocate for disability and multiple sclerosis, working to establish her career as a motivational speaker and using her original music to focus on motivating others to be empowered and positive regardless of their limitations or struggles in life. She has teamed up with organizations like the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, MS Views and News and The Mighty to share her story and advocate change.
She is on a mission to widen the lense of perception in the world of invisible illness and hopes that her voice can be a voice for change. “When there’s no pretty way of telling your story, tell the truth.” says A Hot MS. Being transparent with zero filters allows her readers to connect and know they are not alone in this fight while bringing some humor and positivity to the table. Her goal is to bring light into the darkness we face. To allow those struggling to use their pain as fuel to keep going. To encourage warriors
A Hot MS is working to release her Non-Profit organization this year that specializes in the customization of mobility aids at no cost to the client. Giving warriors utilizing mobility aids to have the chance to choose how it reflects their personality and heart. After being able to customize her AFO brace due to the effects of drop foot from Multiple Sclerosis she knew this was a gift she needed to share. Her organization is aiming to be launched by the fall of 2020.
To find out more about A Hot MS please visit www.ahotms.com She can also be found on IG and FB @ahotms