Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.

Thankful he has MS? No one is thankful for having MS. He makes no sense!

Oh, I hear you. Loud and clear.

Now, let me explain. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) back in 1996, so I’ve had a good long time — over 20 years — to think about this. And yes, MS has closed many doors in my life — physically, emotionally, professionally. But as the saying goes, just as many have been opened.

It is all a matter of perspective. A perspective I had to change unless I wanted MS to prevail.

MS is a different journey for every person, but here are 29 reasons I am thankful for having it:

  1. MS has given me the focus to reshape priorities and discover new, attainable goals in life.
  2. MS has made me a better father. It has enabled me to take a more active role as a parent. Being home and being present, I was able to focus on my family.
  3. Having MS has made me a better son to an ailing mother.
  4. MS has motivated me to improve my fitness.
  5. Because of MS, I watch my diet carefully.
  6. With MS, I focus on the present. Not the past, nor the future.
  7. I am thankful for my MS diagnosis because it explains my moods and the weird sensations in my body.
  8. Having MS has given me a greater appreciation of things around me. The beauty of a sunset. The smell of a flower. The vivid color of autumn leaves (as long as I don’t have to rake them).
  9. I am thankful that MS forced me out of a negative work environment. Long hours, high stress, and constant deadlines were hard on my health.
  10. Thanks to MS I am appreciative of clean, public restrooms.
  11. Though I am fairly independent, MS has made me aware of accessibility and other issues faced by the disabled.
  12. MS has helped me be positive and not dwell on the negatives in life.
  13. I have been able to pursue writing and the dream of creating my own humor blog.
  14. MS enables me to help others live with their diagnosis through advocacy and support.
  15. Because of MS, I am thankful for shower chairs. Who would have thought sitting in a shower could be so comfortable?!
  16. Thanks to MS, I have become more patient with myself, more tolerant of others, and more accepting of their differences.
  17. MS has given me an improved awareness of how my body is feeling.
  18. MS has taught me to channel my limited energy for positive outcomes.
  19. Thanks to MS, I have learned (despite the racket) that an MRI is a fine place to nap.
  20. Because life moves so fast, MS has required me to slow down, allowing me to enjoy each moment.
  21. I am thankful MS has made me realize that my life and health could be much worse. I am lucky.
  22. I have experienced the kindness of complete strangers — from opening doors to helping me load and unload my wheelchair. Even pushing me up a hill!
  23. MS has required me to eat and drink slower. I may always be the last to finish, but I have better appreciation of a good meal.
  24. I admit: I have used MS as a reason to get out of awkward social situations. (Thank you, MS!)
  25. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for pullover shirts as buttons are difficult for those with MS.
  26. Because of MS I may be weaker outside, but I am stronger inside.
  27. I have become respectful of health issues faced by others. Everyone has their own battles so it is better to give support, not criticism.
  28. MS has taught me that falling in grass is much softer than a floor.
  29. And finally, MS has made me see the world from a seated perspective. And it is not at all bad!

As I strive to make positive choices on account of MS, it doesn’t mean multiple sclerosis and I have become chummy, best buds. I still get angry having it. Furious, in fact. Over the years, I have called MS every name in the book. At the top of my lungs no less (just ask the neighbors).

But I also realize MS will not go away. MS is resilient, so I must be, in the fight against it. Thus, my change in thought, heart, and perspective. And for that I am thankful.

Doug is a frequent contributor to Healthline. He also writes for his MS-inspired humor blog, My Odd Sock. You can also enjoy on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.