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How Easy is Normal?

Caroline finally go over her MS attack by undergoing a hefty prednisone treatment. She’s avoided it for eighteen years, but finally succumbed — read the fact-sheet on this synthetic hormone, and you’d avoid it too. Still, to her surprise, she liked it.

Doctor Lapierre, her neurologist, smiled wryly. “Everyone likes prednisone.”

The fact is, it made her feel normal. Yes, we blog philosophers raise our eyebrows at the slippery idea of ‘normal,’ and run off on tangents of relativity, but for Caroline it was tangible — she had energy. Guess what she did with it … tidied the garage shelves, organized her desk and took pleasure in the ability to do what the rest of us take for granted.

Now it’s worn off and, once again, her reaction’s not what you’d expect. A resigned shrug of the shoulders—ah well, it was good while it lasted—is not how she feels. In four short weeks her experience of normalcy became, well, normalized, and the return to a symptomatic life has hit her like a ton of bricks.

It’s easy to come up with logical solutions to these dilemmas, especially if you’re not the one suffering from it. Don’t worry darling, you’ll get used to it again — no, I don’t say that; my response is tougher. I bite my lip and remember that her experience is hers alone, that all I can do is sit with her through her sadness and take joy from her depth when she finds ways to cope.

In spite of her fear that this physical affliction is compromising our relationship, it’s her depth that I love above all, and that’s not going away because of the MS. If anything, it just gets deeper. How lucky am I? Also, how lucky are Caroline’s coaching clients? Her work is more than just a living, it’s a passion — something she excels at because of her experience, not in spite of it. We all have our afflictions, but we don’t have to be limited by them.

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3 responses to “How Easy is Normal?”

  1. Falk

    Reading this, I hear your book in my head Stephen, and Caroline certainly provides a focus: “It Begins with Silence : The Art Of Mindful Reflection.”

    “In silence we face and admit the gap between the depth of our being, which we consistently ignore, and the surface which is untrue to our own reality. We recognize the need to be at home with ourselves in order that we may go out to meet others, not just with a mask of affability, but with real commitment and authentic love. That is the reason for choosing silence.”
    —Rumi

  2. Julie Caouette

    Reading your post reminded me of two books I read recently from Michael J. Fox (who has Parkinson Disease)

    1- Lucky Man
    2- Always Looking Up: The Adventures Of An Incurable Optimist

    Often, celebrities use ‘ghost’ writers; not in his case, Fox wrote both books.

    He talks a lot about how he feels lucky and grateful, and also about the effect of taking medication, and of normalcy.

    I think both you and Caroline would enjoy reading these two extremely inspiring books! And they’re both quick to read…

    Take care 😉 Julie

  3. Caroline

    Thanks Julie, I read both his books as soon as they were available. Very inspiring and familiar. In 1999 I too wrote a novel for families about MS called Crossed Signals. It was an empowering experience which enabled me to connect more deeply to myself and the things that mattered most (mainly my children) in a way that fostered growth and a sense of well being despite the prospect of a life long challenge with this illness.

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