I’ve been afraid twice as a result of my multiple sclerosis. The first time, I was twenty. As I sat down on the edge of the bathtub one day, the backs of my legs felt oddly cold–even numb. I ran to the library and looked up MS, and my heart began to race. Yes, odd sensations of hot and cold were among MS’s symptoms. Suddenly, I could see my future life as my grandmother’s–as that of someone who sat in a chair all day, used a walker and watched TV, not as that of the geologist I was studying to be.
My actual diagnosis came twenty-two years later, after I’d had three children and was embarking on a second career. By the time I received the news, I’d experienced enough incidents like the bathtub moment that I expected it. I wasn’t afraid then.