Sadly, I’ve only used this phrase with negative connotations. Originally, it was meant to be used with positive situations. The 2017 Luke Combs country pop song demonstrates this perfectly. I wish I could relate.
You would be shocked to learn how many friends I’ve lost, how many relationships have faded away, how many people have slowly retreated and eventually turned their back on me simply because my life is too much for them to handle. And I can understand. The hurricane (or maybe Blizzard because I live in Canada) that is my life is overwhelming. I don’t know how or why I’m still standing.
Today I begin yet another chapter in my life story on a negative note. Last week it was confirmed that the “sensory attack” I’ve been having in my leg since January 10th is a Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This is the third official monofocal episode I’ve had now in the past decade; prompting my neurologist to schedule a full MRI to either rule out or give a medical diagnosis of MS. But the writing is on the wall.
It makes sense. I can’t deny it. In fact, this may be the diagnosis I have been searching for since I was 16! I have been bounced around from doctor to doctor for over 20 years now. I’ve been given referrals to the top specialists in the country; and have had every test imaginable performed on me for varying “attacks” to my health. But the results have always come back with nothing.
I have fainted/blacked out several time for no reason. Once it occurred while I was at work in a professional kitchen. Another time it was while I was in line for the new iPhone at the mall. Then there was the time I got a headaches so intense I could hardly walk in a straight line. For someone who never gets headaches... that was scary. I was off work for a week, in the hospital for two days, shipped off for an emergency MRI and through that all nothing was discovered or diagnosed - yet again. These examples are just scratching the surface of a long list of unexplained symptoms I’ve experienced since I was 16.
The attacks intensified in my late 20s and now into my 30s. I had an extreme case of vertigo that left me in bed for several weeks. Then came two cases of optic neuritis in my left eye that took away my vision for weeks; permanently damaged it and left it more than -1.0 worse off than it was before. My ophthalmologist was the first doctor to sound the alarms for MS, immediately referring me to a neurologist who specializes in MS. Nothing was found or diagnosed at that time, but I have remained on an annual watch list for the past six years. Now, my right leg has been numb for almost two months and my neurologist feels this may be the final straw.
What I’m struggling with most is that while the medical community still can’t officially explain what causes MS, it’s believed to be linked to lifestyle. Combine chronic stress, extreme fatigue and a weakened immune system and MS will often attack. Well that sums up my life since I was 12 years old! I don’t know what life looks like or feels like without chronic stress and extreme fatigue.
I haven’t shared many of my stories with you yet here on my blog. They’re still coming, trust me. They are the topics and stories that I talk about and share when I’m given the opportunity to speak at events and conferences. Primarily in this context, what a “Firestorm” my life has been, that no amount of pouring rain has helped. And now I learn that a disease may have been growing inside of me since I was 16, flaring up with each new firestorm i was subjected to?
But that’s hardly the climax of my thought trail here. This may not JUST be about ME! I think it’s a fact (I’m no doctor or geneticist - so please correct me if you can prove I’m wrong) that environmental factors can change and modify your genes and DNA traits over time. Well let’s just say my hypothesis is correct here and that since my “environment” was viciously corrupted when I was 12 years old, my genes and DNA have been changing in negative ways. Let’s assume I’ve had MS since I was 16 - or at the very least since I was 26 when the first official CIS occurred. Now I’m 35 and I have a 4 year old with an extreme language delay, and 2 year old twins - one with Rett Syndrome (a genetic mutation) and the other with Autism.
Am I the cause of this all?!?
If stress, fatigue and a weakened immune system can cause MS, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that I may have passed on some broken and mangled chromosomes to my kids?
Now if that’s not food for thought, I don’t know what is! You need to take this seriously, because I obviously haven’t. For years - my whole life in fact, I’ve convinced myself that I’m invincible. I pride myself in knowing I can survive on four hours of sleep per night. I’ve known this my whole life.
I’ve disregarded people who have warned me to manage my stress better - as I’ve always had extremely high stress jobs and careers. Again, I felt I was “gifted” or “talented” in how I could excel in these high stress situations, always feeling a passion and desire to take on more. It was almost like a notch on my bedpost when I would log a one hundred hour work week. Now I guess it’s caught up to me.
I never once thought any of those decisions or circumstances would affect someone else. I just always figured that if I ever got an ulcer, I wouldn’t blame anyone but myself and I’d embrace the consequences like a man. I always figured that if I ever had a mental breakdown, it would be on me and me alone, and I would battle through it. I never once thought that this might affect those closest to me - because quite frankly “those closest to me” weren’t here 10... 15... or 20 years ago.
But they are now... and now it’s too late. My body is crashing right from underneath me and my broken and mangled DNA, genes and chromosomes are coursing through the blood of three little ones, each with their own developmental delays and challenges.
I was just beginning to embrace the journey that I was on with each of my three kids and now I’m got my own journey to factor in and worry about too.
Am I the cause of this all? Has MY firestorm jumped the river and engulfed someone else’s life? How do you contain a wild fire that’s burning out of control? How do I live with myself if this all ends up being true? And when will I see the rainbow emerge at the end of the storm?