Professional woman, still working, diagnosed in 08/16. Driving to work one day I felt a stiffness which intensified and crept up my legs and abdomen, a banding feeling come across my chest, weakening my hands and constricting my breathing. I had to pull over at a rest stop...it was scary as hell. Long story short and many tests later, I had MS. I had already survived two fiances dying, a plane crash AND now I had MS! I remember thinking at the time, & "Seriously! You've got to be kidding me!"
But nevertheless the process started. I began my MS treatment and through physical therapy I was able to regain the ability to function like before but little did I know that wouldn't last. Easter 2010 I got hit again with an exacerbation. This time the damage was permanent from the waist down. That was the lessen that taught me everything. I had been taking my MS for granted. Pretending that it wasn't there because I had been feeling better. That was my mistake and I wasn't making that mistake again.
Since then, I have overhauled my diet, exercise regimen, and outlook on MS and life. I now travel around the country and speak to other people with MS letting them know that having MS isn't the end of the world and you can still be strong. It's in our DNA, it's part of who we are. MS doesn't mean giving up is just means giving in to change in our journey. There's this great quote, "...never give up for that is the time the tides will turn." We are strong. Stronger that we can possibly imagine.
All of our journeys started with; see the doctor, something’s wrong, you have MS. Overall, the diagnosis follows a similar path; shock/disbelief/anger/frustration and eventually… acceptance. Everyone's acceptance of MS is different and no one's timeline is the same. But accepting it helps to make it more manageable. I mean life happens but it's how we handle it that defines who we are.
I hope to one day see the end to this disease, modifying drugs that not only halt the disease but also reverse the systems, and all of us starting to feel like we once did (i.e. - feeling sensation and not pain in our bodies). I know this may only be a dream but until that dream comes true I intend to live to the fullest the best way I can and help others with MS through tough times because I've been there. I've spent many days on the kitchen floor sobbing in sheer frustration of not being able to do things the way I used to. But I've learned to compromise with myself. Cleaning my house is something my husband now does (darn it...lol), certain exercises I can't do but I continue to do some such as walking, swimming and yoga. My energy waivers and I'm tired a lot. I beat myself up often about all the thing I can't do anymore or become depressed because I don't feel like the same person. But with friends/family, support groups, unexpected confidants, whatever worked best for me that's how I realized changes were needed in my life.
Knowing your body, having educated discussions with your doctor, and feeling comfortable with the therapy you choose to navigate your way with MS, is paramount to living life on your own terms. Not to sound Oprah-esk but we have one life and one body.
I understand that life can turn on a dime; in a second everything you once knew is turned upside. But those lessons taught me that every second counts. It’s the good and the bad that allows for strength, resilience, and passion for life to shine through. This isn’t a practice life, it's time to turn our devastation into determination! I know I can still have my kick-ass/take no prisoners’ attitude and look at the world as place of possibilities not closed doors. And I want to help anyone who feels they can't handle it. There is always a way, there is always a friend, there is always hope.