Monday, December 1, 2014

Transforming Your Fears

I never realize how truly lucky I am until something very small happens and it sheds light on everything. One of the scariest symptoms I have with this thing called MS is my choking from time to time because I can't swallow properly. I remember the first time it happened and it really scared me. It was the final day of my jury duty for a murder trial, it was my birthday and also the day before Thanksgiving. It was about 8 years ago, actually.

The story goes as this, I was driving home from Jury Duty. I was in a crummy neighborhood on the southside of Chicago and I was eating a snack. The courthouse was not known for providing good food during lunch, nor was it known for its safe surroundings. Anyway, it was a cold rainy night, I was snacking on something and all of a sudden I was gagging on my food for some unknown reason. I wasn't known to carry my cell phone all the time back then, and my mind went to the worst place. I was going to choke and pass out at a stop light, someone was going to break into the car and steal everything, and I was going to get hurt... Silly I know!!! 

Back to the story, I actually thought I was choking because I was so sick over the trial that it was impacting me physically. I went home to a bunch of pizzas and cake, which I was extremely scared to eat because I was choking on everything. I choked down, literally, a couple pieces of pizza and some cake, and kept my insanity to myself. I figured it would go away once I quit thinking about the trial, and then it didn't... I simply kept a big glass of water near by to help me in the event I choked. And then one day, several months later, it was gone, no choking!

One of my best traits is that I am optimistic, except when it comes to my health that is. Everything is a big deal when I have an ailment. Not sure why this is, but it is. Anyway, recently I have been having trouble swallowing again, it has come and gone over the years, but this year it has been particularly bothersome. The moment it bothered me most was when I was in the MRI tube last night. I was laying motionless with my head strapped down, less than desirable music beating in my ears and the MRI machine making its typical banging noises. Saliva was gathering in my throat and I couldn't swallow. I, of course, went to that place where I was freaked out and figured I would choke on my spit and they wouldn't notice until they pulled me out of the machine 45 minutes later to inject the dye in my IV. 

And then I started channeling my best friend who always reminds me to chill out and take a step back. Next thing I know, I am still choking on my spit, but I'm not going to die anymore, but instead be a little uncomfortable for a short period of time. This is the same friend that reminded me, the day I was diagnosed with MS, that the only difference between the day I was diagnosed and the day before was that I had new information.

What I am really trying to get at here is that we have the power to transform every moment with our minds. We get to choose our emotional reaction (most of the time, I do like to cry A LOT) to physical circumstances. While I was hanging out in that MRI machine, I could have continued freaking out over my inability to swallow, and you know what? The problem would have likely gotten worse second after second. They would have had to pull me out of the machine and start all over again. A little positive thinking brought me back to earth. My swallowing problem certainly did NOT go away, but it also didn't get worse.

The reason I tell you this is because the power of the mind and the power of a friend's words can really make a difference in the long run. I am not always careful with my words, actually, I am never careful with my words, but there is likely good intention behind my words. Because of this, I listen intently to others because I know when they share information with me, it has the power to positively transform moments in the future.

Listen intently to your friends, as they may be saving you from an anxiety fed over reaction to an MRI machine in the future!

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