A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis
Yvonne deSousa’s diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis came with an insightful declaration from a new doctor (“MS Sucks”) and a brother’s helpful advice (“You could totally get one of those handicapped parking plates now”).
What followed was a year of MS-adventures: “accidentally” kicking an officious male doctor in the crotch, becoming an undercover agent to pay for medication made from Chinese hamster ovary cells, discovering the amazing effects of legal speed, and battling her arch-nemesis, the dreaded food group-vegetables.
Throughout her MS journey, Yvonne learned how to use humor to find acceptance in her diagnosis and how to smile in the face of chronic illness. Life with multiple sclerosis can be daunting, but Yvonne shares her giggles at the bizarre world she has unwittingly entered and the new perspectives it has given her on life. MS Madness! helps us realize that with a sense of humor, we can survive anything.
“MS Madness! A ‘Giggle More, Cry Less’ Story of Multiple Sclerosis combines defiance with humor, the secret weapon of the sick. Laughter has carried me a greater distance than conventional medicine ever will. In the end, attitude drives well being.”
-Richard M. Cohen, NY Times best-selling author of Blindsided and Strong at the Broken Places
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Chapter 12 The Little Things
Outside of the air conditioned restaurant and away from the bay breeze, it was hot. My mom said I should go home and rest but I felt I should go home and sort this mess out. My brain and body were tumbling through a bizarre mix of peace and panic. I was thirsty and was craving my favorite thirst quencher, a fountain Diet Coke with a ton of ice. Water alone doesn’t do it for me. Diet Coke in a can or bottle doesn’t do it either. Something about that particular brand of soda in a frost cold plastic cup filled with ice was what worked for me.
I stopped at my local convenience store and then sat in my car panicking again. Fountain drinks here cost .83 cents. I didn’t have a job. I had absolutely no business wasting .83 cents at this point in my life. I needed to save, to be cautious and thrifty. There was nothing wrong with tap water from my kitchen sink, even if it was from a well and turned my bathtub blue. Now that I wasn’t working I would just have to get used to it, even if it turned my insides blue. Maybe blue would make the lesions in my brain and on my spine more colorful, freak the MRI techs out. That would at least be fun. And I probably even had ice somewhere in my freezer. Maybe the same ice that had been there since last summer but I couldn’t be particular now. No, I wasn’t going to foolishly spend money, no diet coke for me.
But I wanted it, dammit. I had had a stressful day. Didn’t I deserve a treat? And wouldn’t Diet Coke help calm me down and sort out my life? I walked in, filled the plastic cup with a ton of ice and the cherished beverage and defiantly pulled out a dollar bill at the counter. I took some comfort in the fact that at least I would get change back. No putting the two pennies in the ‘need a penny take a penny’ tray, I needed to save everything.
The clerk behind the register seemed busy with paperwork and barely looked up as he said “you’re all set”. I laughed, figuring he was joking. But he didn’t move. I slid my dollar across the counter.
“There’s no charge today,” he said.
“What? How can that be?” I guessed he was a wise guy and continued to thrust one of my seemingly last dollars at him.
“It’s free,” he insisted, sliding my dollar back in my direction. “It’s Friday, a no charge fountain beverage Friday.”
“Really???” I was shocked. Was it true? I could quench my thirst AND save my .83 cents?
I began to thank him profusely and tell him how much I loved the store, how I only shopped there and it was because of excellent customer service like his. What a wonderful company to offer a treat like this one. I told him how kind of them it was and how I would remember it always and continue to only shop there from now on.
“You are in my debt and I am so grateful. I will tell all my friends how great your store is and make sure they all shop here too!”
He seemed to be slowly backing away from the counter. I realized that a line had formed and in declaring my appreciation, I was keeping other customers from getting their free Friday fountain beverage and sort of freaking everyone out. I headed to my car happy my dollar was still in my pocket. I no longer had a job with a biweekly paycheck. But I had a free soda. I was going to be ok. I went home, drank my soda, got into bed and pulled a sheet over my head. Then I slept until Sunday