Declan has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for over 30 years and in that time, despite facing multiple challenges such as changing symptoms and the resulting lifestyle adjustments, he has achieved many of his life goals, stayed independent and learnt to live well. Declan has written a poem to reflect upon his life with MS:
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1988 and allowed my 30th MSaversery to pass by without trumpets or fanfare. I decided to ignore it. I was, however, in reflective mood over the New Year and thought about how I have been living with MS for almost half of my life and how it has impacted me. I have survived and that alone is worth celebrating but more than that, I have lived.
Because of MS I had to use walking aids from early on – despite MS I kept walking.
Because of MS I stumbled and fell numerous times – despite MS I got up each time and carried on.
Because of MS I had to retire early – despite MS I worked for 22 years after my diagnosis.
Because of MS I graduated to wheelchair use – despite MS I am still getting around.
Because of MS my independence has reduced – despite MS I have retained a lot of it.
Because of MS I have a catheter – despite MS I have learned to live with it.
Because of MS and the reduced mobility it causes, travelling can be difficult – despite MS I travel as often as finances and energy permit.
Because of MS my concentration and focus are not as good as they should be – despite MS I took two law degrees at my local university as a mature student.
Because of MS there are times when I can’t do very much – despite MS I do as much as I can.
Because of MS there are times when plans get blown away at short notice.
Because of MS there are places I can no longer visit.
Because of MS I have never run a marathon – that’s not true, I wouldn’t have run one anyway.
Despite MS being a right pain in the behind I will continue to be the best I can be and that is all I can ask of me. Be the best you can be always.
We are all aware of Aesop’s fable concerning the hare and the tortoise where the tortoise, although being slower, won the race. I was once able to keep up with the hare and I am now envious of the tortoise.
Because of MS I don’t know what any given day will bring – despite MS I have learned to live in the moment; I have learned to accept my limitations. I have learned to live.