Coping with Stress, MS Style

"Honey, don’t panic, but at 50 mph I broadsided an SUV that illegally turned in front of me, the car is totaled, and although I think I’m okay, I might have to go to the hospital.” My wife Laura was blunt. “Do you think you can pick me up?” She was also, apparently, delusional.

See, I start having trouble walking just as soon as I start stressing about getting to a restroom on time. Stress, even the anxiety generated by watching a horror flick, amplifies symptoms of my multiple sclerosis. I’m always trapped in my seat until the last of the credits scroll to give the nerves time to chill out.

Perhaps Laura had forgotten about last year when I needed to drive her to the ER. When it comes to pressure situations, I’ll try to do whatever it takes. But I was so freaked out, I couldn’t walk, much less drive. So she drove herself with me in gimpy tow. When we got to the hospital, the attendants rushed right for the person most in need of aid: yours truly. It was embarrassing to explain that I was totally fine and it was my caregiver who needed treatment. Heck, Laura could’ve lost an arm and had a roofing nail sticking out of her forehead and they still would have thought I was more injured. Sheesh.

As for the car accident, the car was indeed totaled—it gave up its life to save Laura’s. And to the surprise of EMTs on the scene (look at that photo!), Laura walked away with just a few bruises and a seatbelt rash. And how did she get home that night? She quickly realized I was essentially useless after inadvertently giving me a brand new temporary pair of rubber legs, and she asked me to call her dad for a pick-up. Now that was right up my alley… dialing a phone from a seated position.