You Don’t Look Disabled – MS Warrior Dilemma

Elgin and Melissa Cook Out with the Wyoming Jeepers
Elgin and Melissa Cook Filming the Wyoming Jeepers

“You don’t look disabled,” my doctor innocently pointed out after she signed my disability form for a travel discount I qualify for as an MS patient. “I don’t blame you. I’d take advantage of the discount, too.” I know I am not alone in the guilt that I feel when someone says, “you don’t look sick,” when discussing the financial benefits I receive for having multiple sclerosis.

MS took me out of my career at the top of my earning power and cut my income in half for five years. Then, I was forced off medical disability and into retirement at 49 years old, cutting my income to one-fourth of my former earnings – this is to say nothing of the additional costs incurred to manage a chronic illness.

MS is a neurological disease, and I don’t have to tell you that just because I look good today doesn’t mean anything. Tomorrow is uncertain. Yes, I look healthy now. I’m out Jeeping, filming my YouTube show, and going, going, going. The beauty of my situation is that I can take a payday when I need to, and no one notices because I’m just not around that day.

Melissa Cook films a Wyoming Jeepers YouTube episode despite having multiple sclerosis.
Melissa Cook Filming Social Media Clips for Wyoming Jeepers

A side note: My doctor is a fantastic lady. I know she didn’t mean anything by her comment. She stated what she sees, and that’s what others see, too.

The decisions I make today will determine how I live tomorrow.

Think about it. If I overspend, I must conserve until the next payday or for months to pay off debt. If I overdo it, I may experience MS paydays – meaning I poked my MS dragon, and symptoms have returned. If I slack off, the work must be done. If I cause conflict, I live with the stress that befalls me and mine.

18 Mile Corner on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska
18 Mile Corner on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska

Understanding my limitations, I made decisions for my September Alaska trip to ensure the best possible outcome. I decided to spend more on my tickets to avoid long layovers, early flights, and arriving too late. I wanted to ensure I begin my trip on the right foot. I’m willing to risk a few down days to save money on the return trip, though. Balance. That’s what I strive for in my decision-making.

Upcoming Appearances

January 26, 2023 – MS News Today Podcast, interview with Jenn Powell

February 4, 2023 – Author Winter Festival – 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. author book signing, Park County Library, Cody, Wyoming

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About the Author

Melissa Cook
Melissa Cook is the author of As a retired high school teacher and school district administrator, she chooses to share her MS story in hopes of benefiting others.