My MS Family

Karen O’Shea
Written by
Karen O’Shea

For anyone living with MS, you likely know that the road is long and often uncertain with plenty of bumps along the way. Too often we are reminded that symptoms can strike at any time. I try not to spend too much of my life wondering about the direction this illness could take, but instead choose to see the positive in each day. Sure, I have my down days where I wonder if I am strong enough to withstand the battle, but during those times I look to my heroes in life for the strength to keep going.

One great thing that has come out of my MS journey is some wonderful and very strong relationships formed with other people around me who are also battling MS. None are blood relatives yet I absolutely consider them family. I feel like sometimes they even know me better than I know myself! They have seen me through the good times and the bad times and their support is unwavering. With them, I feel like I can truly be the real me; I don’t have to plaster a smile on my face or hide my feelings. I could pick up the phone, email, video call or meet them for coffee anytime and know that they understand exactly what’s going on because they too have been there. Of course I am happy to be there whenever they need me as well! Some of my MS family I haven’t even met in person! It’s a relationship that exists only on social media and email, but feels no less powerful than the bond I have with any of my other “In Real Life (IRL)” friends.

The thing I love the most about my MS friends is that they all have very strong personalities but are also completely different in every way. I see myself as the joker but recently came across a kindred spirit who is an ever bigger joker than I am! She is a breath of fresh air as she sees the funny in normal everyday life. I also have a friend who I have the best chats with on topics ranging from discussing Science to discussing Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy! MS is only a small part of our conversations! She has been with me through some dark times and I am thankful for her every day. My Cork friend is my go-to coffee date. The thing I love the most about him is his honesty. He says it like it is. I find this refreshing as not everyone can speak their truth so freely and eloquently. We literally never run out of things to talk about!

When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I never thought that it would turn out to be a blessing but the truth is that the people I have met with MS in the past nine years have inspired me in a way that I never thought possible. Their strength, their fighting spirit, their never ending support of each other is truly humbling. I can say now that I am truly part of a family. We may have been brought together by MS, but we are forever bound by a never ending friendship and an understanding that we are there for each other despite physical distance or changing time zones. They are my heroes and I know unequivocally that with these guys in my corner, I can get through anything.

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