Saturday, 6 April 2013

MS Conference

Today, a first for me - a multiple sclerosis conference.

I sat, with hundreds of others - people with MS, their families, their friends, healthcare professionals, and speakers.

The three main topics:  The science of happiness, cognitive change in MS, and MS fatigue.

Dr. Mark Holder, a psychologist from UBC, who spoke about "the science of happiness," was perhaps the most interesting.  It's amazing how such an abstract concept can be studied so methodically, and can actually be proven to be the most important aspect of our lives.

It was probably my first event where the physical disabilities of MS were the majority.  And it's hard not to look.  To watch.  To wonder - "will that be me?" 

When a woman with MS took the stage to particpate in a panel discussion about fatigue, I was moved.  Here she was - with a walker, a wheelchair, and legally blind in both eyes - all because of her MS - and she talked to us about finding the small positive things in our lives, accepting our fatigue, and being grateful for what we do have.  She spoke with humour, reality, and grace. 

She made me laugh, and she made me cry.  But she gave me hope.  If she can be this positive, despite such adversity, perhaps I can too.

And then I met Jennifer - who, up until now, I only knew electronically.  We both have MS, MS blogs, and we both have teams in the Vancouver MS walk (her team, the Kits Kruisers, are beating my Making Lemonade-ers!).  We didn't recognize each other until we saw our respective name tags.  And then it was like we were old friends.  It's amazing how a common disease, and common reality, unites people.

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