Hunkering Down

As Covid-19 spreads and the race to flatten the curve accelerates, the restrictions and confinement many find imposed upon them sounds pretty much like everyday life to many of us living with Multiple Sclerosis or other debilitating diseases.  We’re used to rarely leaving home unless someone else drives us, and filling endless hours by ourselves at home, day in and day out.

If you’ve started feeling stir crazy and like you’re under house arrest, the feeling will ease up somewhere around the end of the fourth or fifth week.  It might take a little longer if you aren’t already a homebody. After you’ve finished all the projects around the house you’d been meaning to do but hadn’t gotten around to, you’ll enter phase two otherwise known as Netflix Binge Watching.  This lasts only as long as either, A) you hit your own limit of slothfulness and drooling, and your once comfy jammies grow so tight your seams start to rip OR B) your loved ones can’t handle your funky odor, your cheese curl tainted fingertips, and having to preen Apple Jacks from your oily hair anymore.  If you or a loved one have already entered Netflix Binge Watching take courage, phase three is all about self-improvement. You won’t be able to resist the urge to do something to better yourself after all that slovenliness. So, you’ll do something to make up for it, like trying to learn a new language, take up painting, try your hand at beekeeping, attempt to learn how to play an instrument…you get the idea.  This is going to be a tricky one because this stage usually requires going out and spending a lot of money for all the bells and whistles required to do whatever kind of self-improvement you’ve chosen. Let’s hope Amazon doesn’t end up having to limit deliveries to nothing more than “essentials” just as you enter this phase of confinement. Hint: You may need to be mindful of this possibility and purposefully rush through the first two stages 😉.

At any rate, you’ll know you’ve reached the final step in accepting and adapting to your captivity when you wake up to a limited list of things to do but manage to accomplish them to the hum of some unbeknownst internal circadian rhythm.  Everything just sort of falls into place and POOF, your day has passed without really knowing where it has gone.  

Naturally, you’ll be glad when all this self-quarantine business is over and you can finally get back to your “normal” life.  Shhh…you can then quietly but permanently shelve all those Portuguese workbooks and apps you bought a few weeks back and of which you never got past lesson two.  Once your freedom to come and go as you please is restored, you won’t take for granted your reinstated liberty anymore. You’ll remember how it felt to be stuck at home for days on end with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Hopefully, that will be the closest you will ever get to understanding just a fraction of one component of what it’s like to live with MS.

There are actually a lot of others who, like me, have found themselves sequestered on a full-time basis owing to some disease.  If you end up going through some or all of the stages I described above, I think you will come to a deeper appreciation of the strength required to live life within the confines of the same four walls day after day.  Kudos to all my comrades who have the strength to go on living life to the fullest under difficult circumstances. I don’t know what the name of your kind of Strong is, but mine is MS Strong.

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