The hardest part for me came next: telling loved ones about my MS. It did not start so well. I was sitting on my good friend’s couch talking with her before leaving for a John Mayer concert. It started innocently enough asking if she knew what was going on with my hand, etc. It shortly took a turn for the worse. In the next instance, I recall the words blood, spinal cord, and brain coming out of my mouth. What was I saying? This isn’t the way you ease a friend into knowing you have MS. Eventually, after even more scary statements about the disease that probably aren’t completely accurate, the words (or should I say letters) came out. Surprisingly, my eyes stayed dried, and I tried to reassure her that everything is OK and there was no need for her to worry. I have a feeling she still worries, but isn’t that what friends are for to look out for you sometimes. (I apologized a few days later for the manner in which I told her about it all, but I still regret the way that conversation happened.)
Realizing my mistakes, I made a plan for telling other people. I would go straight from my hand to the diagnosis. No need for explanation until they processed the information, and needed their questions answered. However, I still don’t know if the settings I choose to tell my other two good friends were the greatest – a chipotle and a diner. (I guess it is just easier for me to say hard stuff while I am eating.) The second friend, a biology major, understood the disease, and asked a lot of scientific questions. Most of which I had the answers to, but I did not – and still don’t – completely understand MS, so I was unsure about how to respond at times. She did ask one of the most difficult questions that I still deal with everyday since: Are you scared? At that point, I told her no that right now nothing too bad had happened and the doctor even had said it was a slower progressing form of MS. Soon after though, that question enters my mind almost everyday. Yes, I’m scared. Some days I’m scared of the unknown, and other days I’m scared of being judged. There are other days when I am scared that I am changing my identity around this recent diagnosis. I know though that I have friends, in particular this one, that ask the tough questions, and actually listen to the response. After dinner, we ended up at Target, and the night reminded me of our time spent together in high school – easy, fun, and meant to be. The next day I was instant messaging with this friend, and I truly realized how much the night before meant to me, and our friendship.
With the last friend that I told, I had previously mentioned that one doctor suggested MS. It was easy enough to get the conversation started after our waitress brought us our food. My friend asked a lot of questions because I left it very open-ended, and I felt comfortable answering what I could. She asked about my family, and how they were taking the news. In reality, I didn’t completely know because everyone had been being really supportive through it all. Putting up his/her tough guy face to support me. All my closest friends knew now, and no one came across overly sympathetic, which was my biggest fear. Life went on.