I was once walking around the city of London with an old friend. He’d been born and raised in the surrounding city before moving to Scotland for school. He knew much of the jolly old town, and it was not unlike having a personal tour guide taking us around.
One thing that caught my eye was what appeared to be an odd disbursement of (rather dreadful-looking) mid-century buildings butted up against lovely Edwardian and Victorian architecture.
“Weren’t the old buildings protected from the developers?” I asked.
“They weren’t protected from Hitler’s bombs,” was his reply.
It brought back memories of other European cities: Huge earthen mounds — planted with grasses and flowers — in the middle of roundabouts outside Munich, where rubble had been bulldozed and piled high. Large swaths of new buildings across the street from quaint homes in Amsterdam, untouched on one side of the road and obliterated on the other. Whole sections of coastline were extended and the remains of former homes, shops, and businesses were used as fill, because there was nowhere else to put the rubble.
The Holes in Our Lives Left by MS
Both cityscapes and country towns that were ravaged by the Second World War had to be transformed from ruin. They were transformed — some better than others, as I noted in a few London neighborhoods — just like many of us living with the battles of multiple sclerosis (MS) have had to transform our lives.
Where once there was a thriving career, now torn down by the disease, we fill in with less-taxing (and often less fulfilling) jobs.
The coastline of what we thought we could manage happening to us has been filled in (and often, filled in again), leaving us with a broader expanse of appreciation for life beyond the adversities.
Sometimes we are able to fill the gaps created by multiple sclerosis’ munitions with new and beautiful reimaginings of what our life can become. Perhaps it’s a rewarding hobby or volunteer work. Maybe it’s taking the opportunity afforded to live more healthfully or spend extra time with family.
When I’m faced with another MS crater in my cityscape, I’m often reminded of a meeting with my MS-specializing neurologist who has now become a dear friend.
I said, flippantly, as our first appointment ended, “Well, at least I’ll have time to write that book …”
“As long as you take the time and actually write it, Trevis,” was his answer.
Not Everything Can Be Rebuilt the Way We’d Like It
There are, unfortunately for all of us, some ugly battle scars, and crumbling facades of our former lives that we haven’t been able to tear down. They are reminders to us and to those around us that some beautiful things are no longer and just cannot be replaced.
For those other aspects, we find a way to fill in the gaps, to rebuild anew, even if it’s not as pretty as it once was.
Still, It’s Worth Trying
The fact of the matter is that we try. We don’t always succeed. In fact, we often don’t come even close to what we would have considered success. But as long as we take the time and actually (or figuratively) “write that book,” or learn to pivot when MS launches another frontal assault, then we have not wasted the opportunity to make the best of a bad situation.
MS has blown up much of my former life. Not much to be done about that. What I do with the now empty spaces and the rubble it’s left behind is about the only thing left in my control.
Let’s get building our new lives.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.