b'If that happens, give me the chair!on symptoms:Though Im not in one now, this doesnt girdle band sensation (the hug) mean I dont have disabling symptoms. alexia without agraphia (a sudden inability Damage by demyelination, as people with MSto read) are deeply aware, is permanent, worsening word-nding dilemmas during times of stress.lesions Ive faced plenty of that since 2013 (pandemic tinnitus notwithstanding). During this time:paresthesiaMy children graduated from both high school Uhthoffs phenomena (heat intolerance) and college.vertigo My husband was forced into early retirement,Heck, the books title, itself, is a symptom: and we moved to downsize. Intention Tremor. Both my parents died. Still, even dealing with a chronic illnessMeanwhile, two contentious elections blewdiagnosis, and all of these symptoms, I dont up my family tree.identify as disabled. I quit a beloved job.The question, asked in the workshop chat, still leaves me feeling out of place, like Im an This voluntary move, to leave behind aMS voyeur instead of a student.brand-new career at the sleep clinic, runningDo you identify as disabled?overnight tests, was sadly necessary. TrustDoes answering No dismiss my real me, the last thing a person with MS needs isexperiences with MS symptoms?chronic circadian disruption and sleep debt.By some measures, that act alone suggestsDoes answering Yes mean Im only allowed disability, since having MS interrupted myto identify my Self through the MS aperture? ability to do my job. I may have disabling signs, symptoms, These days, I write: about sleep, fatigue,and treatment side effects, but I also have and MS.good days, moments when I feel normal. I have come to think of MS as having Writingwell, creating anything, reallyisreal-life setbacks that I accept as the temporary therapeutic, a way to make sense of the madnessdisruptions they are (at least for now).of MS and glean a better understanding ofTo be honest, healthy people also face how it inhabits my body. disabling setbacks: opioid addiction, abusive I recently published a book which chronicledfamily members, life in a disaster zone, the my life following diagnosis in 2013. loss of loved ones, economic disparity. WritingpoetryandcreativeprosehasI nally responded:given me the opportunity to turn this leadenDo I identify as disabled? No. But am I? realityover which I have little controlinto aProbably. So what? Im still me.little bit of gold (or at least shiny copper). When the chat blew up after that, I realized My book describes all manner of dotageI wasnt alone.45 msfocusmagazine.org'