I'm not sure there's a clear method for the kind of "coping" that my life with MS is calling upon me to do.
For major events--deaths, amputations, anything that is a traumatic single moment--the path is at least somewhat clear for both the sufferers and the caregivers. The Kubler-Ross model of grief, for example; the time and the path the sufferer takes on each stage is specific to them, but there is at least some definition to the stages. There is the shock of the event, the process of grief, then the return to a new normality.
Ongoing conditions that involve some sort of (at least at first) significant struggle, such as an unexpected diagnosis of diabetes or a heart attack, can invoke some sort of noble courage as the sufferer deals with the change in life, which is replaced over time by gentle acceptance. "Ah, you get used to it," my fourteen-year-old diabetic student said of her blood tests and injections. "It's really not so bad, after a while. I'm used to it."
My walk with MS is like walking through a light aerosol of oily urine. It's not bad. It is, in the words of the neurologist who gave me the diagnosis, "not even close to tragic." But everything about it is vague. I'm vaguely numb in certain areas. I "sort of" have trouble standing. I don't enjoy using my right leg (especially) but I sort of can, if I have to... usually. Sometimes I don't want to get out of my chair in a very whiny sort of way. But I can, if I have to. Sort of.
It's like having not a sharp pebble, but a gummy bear, stuck in your shoe. How bad is it, really? Well... "sort of" bad. Not "really bad." "Sort of" bad. And it's constantly, and vaguely, changing slightly... every day. Sometimes every half day.
So there's no grieving process that leaves you transformed and liberated at the end. There's no noble struggle against a significant challenge, the rising to meet which leaves you liberated by the process of transcending your own limitations.
It's not at all clear how to "rise to meet the challenge" of an oily aerosol of urine. Even if you manage to hose yourself off somehow, in a few minutes you're wet again. I suppose, that compared to some of my fellow MS sufferers, I should be grateful that so little is wrong with me.
I am. But I'm still "sort of" suffering.