As part owner of a travel agency, David enjoys scuba diving and traveling around the world. He also owns his own business that creates unique beverages. David believes his optimistic attitude helps keep him in control of his own life with relapsing MS.
How tough can it get? I sat outside the store where I was getting new clothes for school and the pants I really wanted were not at this particular store. I had to get pants this same day and according to my mother, it was this store or no store! I had no idea how I was going to get the pants I wanted and no way to change my circumstances. How could I ever wear pants I didn’t like? It was not fair and I couldn’t believe how tough my life had become since I turned nine years old. Just then I figured out a way to delay the purchase by “negotiating” with my mother. Turns out, it wasn’t so tough.
Now that I am a “few” years past age nine, I’ve finally learned that negotiations are a constructive and effective way to manage all of life’s challenges and a sure way to keep your sanity. Certainly, we learn the art of negotiation early in life. I suspect I negotiated a bottle of milk (or two) as a baby by crying loudly. I probably negotiated a candy bar (or two) by acting out in the grocery store. Having mastered this art of negotiation early in childhood, I’ve put it to good use in my later years. For me, the trick has been to add “reasoning” to negotiation to alter the outcomes in a more positive way.
Summers in Louisville can be challenging sometimes because of the extreme heat and humidity. How do I get through it? I use my negotiating and reasoning skills. Since I cannot negotiate with the temperature, I survey the landscape and make choices based on my findings. It’s only tough if I have to cancel plans – I am always willing to change plans. For example, I work in my garden early in the morning and late at night. These times of day are cooler and allow me to enjoy the outdoors and clear my head. If I need to run errands, I choose locations that have up close parking and whose lots have shaded areas. When possible, I choose locations where I can make multiple stops with less outdoor exposure, like strip malls. I also consider twenty four hour operations and go early or late. I always try to be inside during the hottest part of the day.
Then there are days when I just don’t feel well. It would be easy for me to get in bed and lament about how tough I have it and how I wish I did not have relapsing MS. I use my reasoning skills for this as well. First, I survey the situation. I confirm that I do in fact have relapsing MS and at present, there is no cure. Then I analyze why I feel bad. Is it physical or emotional? If physical, I look for ways to alleviate the issue with simple skills or tips I have learned in classes or at support groups. I might take an aspirin for a headache or a muscle ache, elevate my legs if they are tired or weak, or schedule naps during the day. If emotional, I negotiate a truce with myself. I might call three friends and talk about everything but MS. Often that gets my mind off my “tough” issues and on to more constructive thoughts. Or I might start a project, ranging from a small house chore to planning a major fundraiser for our local MS Center. These projects help to get my mind somewhere positive. I also like to go see a movie at the theater. There is nowhere better than a theater to stay cool and get my mind in a good place (and eat lots of popcorn).
All of these ideas center on my negotiating with myself (either body or mind) into a place that makes my issues more manageable. I apply reasoning and decide what I can do to help improve my situation. I know that what works for me does not work for everyone. Go ahead and negotiate with yourself and apply appropriate reasoning – it’s worth it.