I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007.
Was it devastating? Of course. Did I cry? Lots. Was I angry? Depressed? Lost? All of these and more. But I came to terms with it in time. I worked with an MS counsellor who helped me to deal with my emotions, and taught me to communicate with a loving family whom I had inadvertently shut out. With communication came less frustration and a realisation that life goes on. And my life does go on, albeit with a few changes.
Surprisingly some changes were for the best. Before diagnosis I had lost focus and direction. It’s hard to admit, but I was going nowhere in life. My MS diagnosis forced me to reflect upon myself and I found an inner strength I never knew I had. It is similar to that moment in a cartoon when you see a character hit by lightning have a eureka moment. MS could be a negative in my life but I was determined to be positive while making realistic adjustments.
Fatigue can be an issue. It means sometimes I have to curb my enthusiasm a little. Before, I never said no to anything. Everything was 0-90mph. Nowadays I run at my own pace. In living with MS you realise sometimes you need to put yourself first. This is not so easy when you have a ten year old daughter with as much energy as a Springer Spaniel. When I say put yourself first, I mean saying no when you’re just not up to the task. I mean accepting that you just need a little more rest. I mean not being afraid to communicate how you are feeling and I mean always claiming entitlement to the last chocolate bar (well a girl can dream!)
I came across an old expression recently. What cannot be cured must be endured. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of enduring something is to suffer (something painful or difficult), to carry on through despite hardships. When I talk about my MS I never use an expression such as ‘suffering’. In my life I do not suffer. I have a beautiful daughter that inspires me. I have a partner that loves me and makes me laugh. I have a huge support network of family and friends that pitch in if they are needed. I consider myself to be truly blessed.
In my local community I am a Beaver Scout Leader which is so rewarding. It gets me out in the fresh air as we go on hikes and adventures. I have always found nature so soothing and there is nothing better for me than the outdoors. In short, I live a good life.
Don’t get me wrong. My life is not always perfect. I have relapsing-remitting MS but I am relatively stable most of the time. The biggest trouble I have is I am very prone to infection. I have days where I have a date with my duvet, but thankfully, these are rare.
I always tell myself tomorrow will be better and do you know what? It always is.