Last week I received an email from a woman with whom I used to correspond regularly. (Let’s call her Ann–this is NOT her real name.) I ended the email exchange after a few months because she was always so negative. Ann and I “met” on an email group that centered around managing various forms of Multiple Sclerosis naturally, without any form of standard medication or medical intervention. She joined our list presumably looking for help with her MS. Her condition was deteriorating, and she was looking for ways to maintain her ability to walk. I was very new in my MS journey but was having clear success withe the protocols I was using at the time. Ann read some of my posts and emailed me directly asking for my suggestions.
I was very clear with her that I was not a doctor, wasn’t a health coach, and had no real education or experience with this, except my personal experiences. With that being understood, I shared what I had done, what I was doing currently (this was about 8 or 9 years ago), and where I was getting my information and guidance from. Our conversation lasted several weeks and then she started getting very negative and seemed to be angry with me. I felt bad for her. It was obvious from Ann’s emails that whatever she was doing to treat her MS was not working. At the same time, it was equally obvious to me that she wasn’t following anyone’s advice– not mine, not the suggestions from the resources I had sent her over the time we had talked, and not the advice of her doctor, either. In her emails to me, she had nothing but anger and resentment for everyone who was trying to help her. She told me that changing her diet was too much trouble, taking supplements and LDN was too expensive. I even offered to buy supplements for her and mail them to her if she would use them, even though our budget at the time couldn’t really support it. I put her in touch with natural health coaches in her area who would guide and support her for no fee. In her last email to me, Ann criticized the natural methods that were so clearly working for me, saying it was a waste of time and money, and then told me that I should just be thankful that I had a benign form of MS, and I should just shut up and leave other people alone. She ended the email by saying that my rejection of standard MS treatments would land me in a nursing home, or worse and that I was robbing my children of their mother. I never answered that email, but I continued to light candles for her, and send healing Reiki energy her way.
Fast forward to a week ago. I received an email from Ann asking how I was doing. She apologized for the way she talked to me, and her dismissive actions toward my attempts to help her get a handle on her MS. She was angry and resentful that people in the MS group were having real success managing their MS without drugs, and hers seemed unmanageable no matter what she did. In her email, she told me that she ended up alone in a nursing home. Ann’s family placed her in a nursing home because she required do much care, and they stopped visiting because she had become incredibly negative, angry, resentful, and difficult to deal with. She went on to say that about two years ago someone came into her life that helped her change her attitude. She said this person was a fellow nursing home patient who was in much worse physical shape than she was and had even less family contact than she did. The two women became friends, and Ann learned that her friend had a disease that was steadily robbing her of all ability to function, and she was facing a hard death. Despite this situation Ann’s friend seemed thankful to be alive, happy, and always had a kind word for everyone. Ann said that even toward the end, her friend remained happy, positive and kind. She had real friends among the nursing home staff and patients. In the last week of her friend’s life, she told Ann that she had always seen Ann as lucky because while her children didn’t visit often, they did write and call her on occasion. The friend had no children, no siblings, and both her parents had died. Her friend told Ann that her doctors expected her to die several years ago, but that she had always remained positive, and always appreciated and celebrated each day because it was a special gift. She celebrated the little things– like the fact that she could still hear birds chirping outside, and that she could still see the faces of her friends.
After the friend’s death the entire nursing home mourned her. Ann spent some time thinking about what her friend had experienced, how she dealt with it, and what she had said. Because of this woman’s friendship, Ann decided to intentionally try to find something every day which she could appreciate and be thankful for. At first it was difficult, but after a few months, she says it got easier. Ann said that as time went on she started to really and truly become thankful for her life and the things she could still do. She could still feed herself, and with every bite she took, she was thankful for that ability. Ann told me that as she focused on what she COULD do, as opposed to what she COULD NOT do, she became able to do just a bit more.
In her email, Ann said that she had cut gluten, sugar and ultra-refined foods from her diet, and that after a few weeks without those things her brain fog was clearing and she was in significantly less pain. Three months later, she was able to stand up for the first time in a long while. Ann said that she needed leg braces, and support bars to stand, and she tired quickly, but that she was thrilled that she was able to stand again. Ann never expects to walk again, but there is talk among her children of her moving in with one of them, and she’s thankful that her family is accepting her attitude change. She said that she feels incredibly sad for taking her anger and frustration out on everyone around her, and she hopes she can make it up to her family. Ann wants her friend’s legacy to be a lifelong change in her attitude.