My Greatest Teacher

Corrie Burge is a local comedian who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the young age of 17.  As a way to deal with the issues associated with an unpredictable illness Corrie has written an ebook Cures are for Pussies available on Amazon and Smashwords.



You can also follow her journey on Facebook: A Comedian’s Adventures with Multiple Sclerosis

 It is my pleasure to bring Corrie Burge’s story to you in her own words. 

I was seventeen the year I graduated from high school, moved out on my own, and found out I had Multiple Sclerosis. After years of competitive sports and weight lifting, I contemplated my own weakness for the first time. I was frightened and bemused, arriving at my destinations but seldom remembering the road. At seventeen, I wasn’t wise enough to believe that MS could become my greatest teacher.

I awoke one morning lacking vision in my left eye, and as much as I knew about MS, it might have been an eye disease. What I learned to be Optic Neuritis went away in a few weeks, but within a month I had a new, more serious symptom. My diagnosis changed from probable to definite when numbness spread from my feet to my hips.

After several months, many tears, and a round of steroids, the numbness vanished as did the fear and depression, leaving me feeling invincible again. I didn’t pause long enough to learn much about MS, quickly shifting into a prolonged state of avoidance and denial. It was almost eight years before my family was able to convince me to see another neurologist. Until then I rarely thought about MS and when I did, I reasoned that my diagnosis was a mistake. Even when a new MRI test showed lesions indicative of MS, my well-developed pattern of denunciation persisted for another two years.

A decade after my diagnosis, a relapse forced me along the path of acceptance. At the time, I was working, taking night classes and adhering to a rigorous fitness routine. I was too busy to appreciate what I had and unable to enjoy the journey, always worrying about what was done, and what was next. Despite self-made distractions, I was soon unable to deny the symptoms I began to have.

My first relapse in ten years began one night on my way home from a long day at work. I felt movement when there wasn’t any and this time it was unremitting. The next day it was confirmed as vertigo, and therefore an attack of MS. As if to validate the point, I began to have a host of other symptoms common to MS, each as unpredictable as the last.

At first, I focused on how much I’d lost and how much I might have to give up. I was devastated, feeling the full weight of the pain I had been suppressing. Searching for understanding, I began to write in a journal and it wasn’t long before a simple recount of symptoms transformed into a rich exploration of thoughts and feelings. In little time, writing became my haven, my place to be uninhibited, my place to rant and my place to recall what I could have done better. With a renewed sense of peace, I began to accept my symptoms, and my MS.

When MS was no longer an adversary, I became open to its lessons. I’ve learned the importance of living in the moment, knowing that happiness can most often be CHOSEN rather than merely found. I’ve discovered that self-esteem is not necessarily preceded by vocational, educational, or physical accomplishment. Most importantly, I’ve learned to embrace difficulty and take advantage of the tremendous opportunities afforded by simplicity and acceptance.

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