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.


Unknown said…
I'm glad to hear she is all right. I'm with you on the dealing with stress less well. In arguments, I don't know who finds it more frustrating, me or my wife. If she says something upsetting, I shut down to deal with it, not talking much at all. So the arguments are one sided with my side coming 30 minutes or more later. She complains that it is really hard to keep her anger up while I stew and present my side.



Still, I understand what you mean about shutting down under stress. I've had to learn to partition my brain, and very few things get under all layers. My job, kids' medical care, kids' behaviors, etc. all reside on a surface level because once something needles into the mind below the part dealing with all of those things, it often trips the reboot button.
Dave Bexfield said…
Well said, LWL. Fortunately I mostly avoid stressful situations. Mostly.
Jackie said…
So far stress does not seem to affect my walking, knock wood it never does as heat does a good enough job with killing my leg functions.

Dave glad to hear Laura walked away with little to no visible injuries but hopefully she still got checked out by a doctor just in case as things do not always show up immediately after a wreck.
Sue W. said…
Oh, how frustrating. Been there. And then the frustration causes more stress.
Have also done the whole "shut down" thing during arguments. Or stumbling over words. Or trying to spit words out. It all makes me look like an idiot, or childish, or brainless.
So, so glad Laura walked away. And her dad could pick her up. Those kind of crutches work even better than the titanium ones.
Dave Bexfield said…
Too true, Sue. Family is a pretty awesome crutch. And Jackie, Laura did get checked out to be on the safe side (good advice), so all is good in that department.
Niko said…
Stress and whenever my digestive tracks up. Both are related, and both affect my MS! I wish there were more studies positively correlating the digestive system, how it's affected by our thoughts/emotions and how it affects the immune system...and MS.

I am glad to know that your wife is okay :)
Dave Bexfield said…
Niko, I'm digesting what you just said. (Sorry, sorry.) And agree!

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