I was 22 when I was diagnosed, more than half my life ago, I have learned a lot and am stronger for the experiences. I believe that we can be better people if we open ourselves to learn from our hardships.
I was 22 when I was diagnosed, more than half my life ago.
I was in the hospital, when a doctor explained Multiple Sclerosis to me by saying, ‘we don’t know what causes it, and there is no cure, but stress makes it worse. Maybe you shouldn’t be training for any marathons, and if something is too hard or stressful, you might re-consider your priorities.” Well, I had been training for a marathon and once out of the hospital, I resumed training. MS replied by giving me another relapse. So it was – I slowly learned that when I pushed my body too hard, I got a relapse. I would struggle with his advice and try to come to terms with over the years, but for me, stress IS a big factor.
I struggled with my grief – over the person I wanted to be and the person I might become if the disease progressed. I heard the term, “external validation” and I wondered: what do I do for the approval of others? What’s most important to me?
I still sometimes struggle to listen to my body and its limits. It can be a tough balance. Dealing with a diagnosis for a chronic disease means it doesn’t go away. Every day I make choices with this in mind. I make small adjustments and try to be consistent with what works. Little steps make a path. I do what I can today to support my feeling as good as possible tomorrow.
As Victor Frankl said: ‘It’s not what happens to us but how we react to it that matters.” Most days I go for a walk or hike, but sometimes I go for a run when my body feels like it.
To pay it forward, I have started co-hosting a support group for people who are living with MS, and following a diet and lifestyle program called Overcoming MS. I hope to share my enthusiasm and support others who have chosen to walk a similar path as I – and are doing what they can to support their health.