The Fourth of July is recognized as the day in 1776 when our founding fathers gathered to adopt the Declaration of Independence, declaring the Colonies as a new nation.

When I think of the word “independence,” I think of the ability to live as safely and comfortable as possible. To live with pride. And when you have multiple sclerosis (MS), it means doing so while the disease slowly chips away at your being.

That’s why, for me — and many other people who have MS — the word “independence” can take on a completely different meaning.

Independence means not asking my wife for help cutting my meat at dinner.

Independence means being able to get up the three steps to the back door of my home.

It means being able to roll my wheelchair unaided through the grocery store.

And lift my heavy legs over the tub wall to take a shower.

Independence means being strong enough to open a bag of chips.

Independence is doing what I can to help around the house.

It’s trying to remember your name while I talk to you at the party.

Independence means being able to button my own shirt.

Or being able to use the hand controls of my car.

Independence is walking a few feet through the grass without falling in front of everyone at the cookout.

It means knowing how and when I got that bloody scrape on my shin.

Independence means being able to get something from the refrigerator without dropping it.

We as MSers don’t ask for much. We’re feisty and strong-willed. We work hard to remain as independent as we can, for as long as we can.

Keep fighting for your independence.

Doug writes about living with MS (and much more) on his humor blog My Odd Sock.

Follow him on Twitter @myoddsock.