Running Scared

Running Scared

It was an unusually warm & sunny afternoon.  After a busy day of activities, I was struggling to climb into my car when he approached.

Magic 8 Ball, what does my future hold?
Magic 8 Ball, what does my future hold?


“Can I ask you something?” he said.

I figured it was a question about my car.  I drive a Honda Fit.  It’s the kind of small car you would expect to see 10 or 12 clowns pile out of at a circus.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what do you have?” he asked.

His question threw me for a sec.

I assumed he was curious how my head fit into such a little car.  (It’s like squeezing a kickball into a motorcycle helmet!)

“I have MS” I told him.


The guy’s name was Jim and he was just diagnosed with MS a few months earlier.

But he didn’t have to tell me—I could see it in his eyes.

Jim was running scared.

His head was spinning inside.  A million thoughts all at once.

No real focus, just a jumbled mess of fear, confusion, apprehension and hysteria.

Spinning like a top
Spinning like a top



I know.  We all do.  And if you’ve been told you have cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Aids, whatever—then you know too.




Fourteen years after my diagnosis, I still remember the day I was informed of my MS.  I almost emptied my bladder right there.  Hell, I figured the crinkly paper on the examination table would absorb at least some of it!

And my head began spinning wildly out of control.  Just like Jim’s.  (Or, Lindsay Lohan’s for that matter.)

It took years to calm my thoughts and I vowed to do my best to help others calm their own.


Trim that nose hair!
Trim that nose hair!


Thinking back, I realize my unsettled fear was…was what my life has become today.

I walk with a cane, use a wheelchair and live with a smorgasbord of MS quirks.

But the “calmness” comes with the realization that it’s OK.

Sure things could be better–but they could be worse too.  You simply field the grounder that life hits your way.


Jim and I spoke for quite a while.  I answered his questions and addressed his concerns as best I could.  He seemed relieved of some of the pressure he had bottled up inside.  “We’ll talk again” I assured him.  Gotta keep tabs on my new myelin comrade.


If I could offer any advice to those newly diagnosed, I would suggest you talk to another person who has MS.  You will hear a perspective (and hope) not found in books or magazines.  Do anything to keep the pressure from building within.  They key is to avoid running scared.


3 Replies to “Running Scared”

  1. Very Very True! Great one sock! I remember running scared (when I could) into the shower to hide from family & friends, and feeling some very negative thoughts. The best thing anyone can ever do, is talk with other people in the same type of a boat…disease in general. Realize to look at what you do have and not the things that you no longer have. And live every day with a smile, even when beat down, because no one has any idea what tomorrow truly holds.

  2. It can be a good thing to educate yourself about MS by reading, but I scared myself silly. I agree with your advice. Only after I talked to people with MS, was I able to calm down, take each day as it comes, and count my blessings.

  3. So true. Fear and grief consumed me during the early stages, followed by self-imposed isolation. But once the fear dropped away, I could start giving support to others. It is very healing to give someone else what I had once needed.