I find myself stuck between hope and optimism. My need for either comes from a sense things can not continue indefinitely along my current path. Pain grows and periods of blindness increase in frequency. I know much of this is a by product of stress. Thankfully, I have some reasons for optimism and hope. When one can not win a game, and the playing of it gives only negative results, perhaps it is time to change the game. In my case, the potential changes give hope for short term betterment and optimism for long term changes.
For me, the difference in the two terms, hope and optimism, lays in one’s expectations. Optimism implies an expectation of a positive outcome or set of outcomes. Hope is the ability to conceive of and imagine a good outcome after we have set aside all of our expectations for good or ill.
Hope remains independent of our logic. At times, it may be buttressed by our optimism and logical expectations. Yet at other times, it may be the last defense standing alone in the path of the hurricane of our existence which seems to blow away all that upon which we have built our lives.
Some days, we must all hide behind our hope, taking shelter until the sun shines once more so that we may begin to build anew.
Hope for the short term:
MS certainly creates stress as my body shuts down at work and home. At work, I manage a team whose membership has changed suddenly. I have all new staff, and I have to hope they are as good and competent as they seem because our schedule remains unchanged. I have to hope I can move on from this job after I set it up to continue. I need to change this game because my ability to enjoy the process has left with the staff I picked and trained.
At home, I hope my oldest daughter learns to accept her limited diet and finds a way to thrive emotionally. Last week, she accused us of trying to kill her by not letting her eat (by mouth). I can only hope because right now, in the midst of it, I can not see a way out. Yet we will continue on as best we can, hoping for peace.
Optimism for the long term:
There was an article in Nature last week showing for the first time how the brain is connected to our immune system. It mapped out the blood brain barrier. While this is not in itself a cure for MS or Alzheimers, it does put the brain back in play as a normal vascular system where blockages can be seen and predicted. CCSVI was a procedure started by a vascular surgeon in Italy who believed his wife’s MS was a vascular problem. He put a stent in her brain to improve blood flow. Since then, thousands of MS patients have had the same procedure, despite not knowing if it solved a real problem in our brains. For some it helped, and other it did not. Studies seemed to show MS patients were no more likely to have a blockage than a healthy person. Now, with this study, we may better be able to look at the brain’s blood flow and understand the system. Suddenly, we may have changed the brain from a complex system to merely a complicated one. A procedure like CCSVI may be better targeted.
This discovery has the potential to be a game changer for our understanding of how the brain works.
On the home front, our game change is in name only. This week, we adopted K who has been with us for years. It may be in name only, but the feel good news comes at a most welcome time.