I’m Learning to Appreciate the Slower Pace of CMT Life

Columnist Young Lee acknowledges one "gift" of his disease

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by Young Lee |

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Can Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) be a gift?

Many in our community have pondered this question, and I’ve written about it before. But I’ve been thinking about the idea again after my sister brought it up while we were visiting our parents in Ohio recently.

My sister is the type of person who strives to see setbacks or inconveniences as opportunities to learn and grow. This perspective is rooted in her spiritual beliefs and worldview. Although I share many of the same beliefs, acknowledging CMT’s “gifts” hasn’t been particularly natural or easy for me.

In fact, overemphasizing the possible upsides of challenging experiences can be a particularly exasperating aspect of toxic positivity. This perspective often seems to dismiss the very real struggles and pain that come from hardship. When people who don’t know me urge me to find the silver lining in difficult times, it can feel deeply callous.

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Transforming Frustration With CMT Into Learning

Still, when I’m intentional about learning the lessons CMT may be able to teach me, I find there are certainly aspects of CMT life that are worthy of gratitude. For example, while managing her own CMT symptoms, my sister discovered that the disease forces her to take things more slowly.

As many CMTers know, it’s hard to move quickly with a funky gait, unstable hands, and clumsy feet. However, by managing these aspects of CMT and accepting rather than fighting them, I can take these symptoms as cues from my body to slow down and take my time — to appreciate the moments I might miss if I move through life too quickly.

Life can be beautiful, and there are plenty of small things to savor.

Taking time to listen to my body, even if it’s because my CMT symptoms are forcing me to do so, allows me to sit, relax, and listen to the birds sing. I have time to examine the clouds and cherish the way a summer breeze hits my face.

I know this may sound silly to some. The cynical part of me wonders if I’m just doing mental gymnastics to justify my positive thinking.

But given how easy it is these days to be overwhelmed with alerts from all of our electronic devices, current events, and general busyness, I think I’ll just accept this particular “gift” of CMT with gratitude.

Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.


Olympia McFall avatar

Olympia McFall

How true. I stay positive most of the time with my cmt2A. However, when that fatigue hits occasionally I keep on my regular exercise routine, but slower. I think that to just stop everything would be a disaster for my body and my mind.

Cliff Love avatar

Cliff Love

It's alot easier said than done .........but that's what we can do to cope with the changes................keep on keepin on!


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