Two people stand on an overlook, looking back at the path below that is in some parts easy and some parts difficult to traverse because of the mountainous terrain.

10-Year MS Anniversary: Looking Back

August 30th, 2020 is the mark of my 10-year anniversary with MS - well, since we ‘signed the papers’ AKA my official diagnosis date. My husband and I were talking the other day and he said, “Isn’t it crazy to look back at where you were then to where you are now?” I want to share a photo that he had made so you can really understand where he was coming from with that statement.

Four photos from 2010, 2017, 2019, and 2020 respectively showing Ashley in wheelchair in 2010 and rock climbing in 2020

Diagnosed at 22 with two young children

It is crazy to look back at that time. When I was diagnosed, I was 22-years-old with a 1-year old and a 4-year old. I remember just feeling so overwhelmed and depressed. I didn’t know what to do; I was scared to even be at home with my kids alone when I was newly diagnosed because I was afraid that something would happen to me with no one to help me or them.

Strides in MS research since my diagnosis

So much has also changed in the world of MS since I was initially diagnosed. Within the research, many more disease-modifying therapies have been approved. While that’s a great stride in the fight against MS, it’s still not a cure. Which is really what all of us want.

We will still be living with this disease until there is a cure

I’ve been sitting here wondering how many ‘anniversaries’ I will have with MS. In a way, it’s a depressing thought process, but I’m not trying to be depressed about it. We all have so many ups and downs with this disease that I celebrate the 'ups' so that I have enjoyment in that time period. Then hopefully, when I have my ‘downs’ it isn’t as bad.

I refused to accept the prognosis my first doctor gave me

Looking back at what was initially told to me about my prognosis with MS by my diagnosing neurologist, I’m glad that he was wrong. It’s not every day you hear someone say that they were glad a physician was wrong. Or maybe it’s because he gave me such a horrible outlook on my life that I decided I wasn’t going to sit down and just accept what he said and wait for it to happen. Who knows?

We are fighters

It seems that with myself and many others that I have spoken with who have MS, we don’t like to be told what to do. But also, we don’t WANT to just sit back and let this disease control our lives. I for one will admit that I'm stubborn, and I'm reminded of that from my loved ones when I am having a stubborn moment.

Finding the right treatment is a trial & error process

Anyways, when I was first diagnosed with MS I thought because one medication worked for so many people with MS that I would have the same result. It took me a bit to figure out that we’re all snowflakes. There are no two identical cases of MS. But when you’re newly diagnosed with a life-changing disease, that’s hard to comprehend.

This journey hasn’t been easy at all. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I went through so many different treatments, diets, exercise plans, natural remedies...it was exhausting. Even after I gained more knowledge about MS, I still kept ‘relapsing’ on whatever treatment I was using. Not on purpose, but because it wasn’t the right treatment plan for me.

Never give up

There have been many times throughout the past 10 years that I wanted to give up. It was and still is exhausting to fight my own body. It is exhausting to try something out that shows promise, only for your MS to throw a hissy-fit and not work with your treatment plan.

Finding something that works for me after 7 years

It's only been for the past three years that I have FINALLY found something that is working for me. This was after trying and failing FIVE different treatments before that. I can’t even remember how many different diets, remedies, etc. I've gone though.

I’m not trying to be discouraging with sharing my struggle, so I hope you don’t take it that way. I’m trying to share that it took me 7 years to figure out the right plan for me.

Don’t give up on finding the right thing that works for you.

xoxo
Ashley Ringstaff

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