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Before vs. After

Before vs. After

Have you ever thought or wondered if you will ever go back to ‘normal’? Whether it is after a MS Flare/Exacerbation, or just your life after your diagnosis? Wondering if you will ever be what you were before all of this chaos started? I seem to think about that issue a lot. I tend to sit here and compare or reflect on how I was before my diagnosis to how I am now.

I have been asked what I would be doing now, had I not been diagnosed. And I honestly don’t know. It’s not a question that I can answer easily. I had a job interview with the local county jail coming up, and then I had a really bad exacerbation and was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. So I can’t honestly answer what I would be doing. Would I have continued my education to be a Juvenile Probation Officer? Would my relationships with my family and friends be different? I just don’t know.

While I’m sitting here wanting/needing a Cure for Multiple Sclerosis, it’s kind of scary to think about what my life WOULD be life if I didn’t live with Multiple Sclerosis everyday. Would it be easier? Yes, it would be, obviously. But I’m not talking about my health and/or Quality of Life… I’m talking about life as a whole.

After being diagnosed with MS initially, all I wanted was my life back. I wanted to continue on the path that I was on, and have no changes to it. But now, I’ve matured, I’ve grown as a person, I’ve changed… and not just in my health, but I’ve changed who I am as a person.

I don’t have the same hobbies, day-to-day life, same circle of friends, etc. While yes, it stunk that I did lose friendships after being diagnosed, I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve made since then. I met my best friend after I was diagnosed; it’s because of my MS that I met her, because she has MS too. To think about not having her or any of the other friends I’ve made in my life, is scary and it’s not something I want. Most of my new friendships, including my friendship with my Best Friend, I made because of Multiple Sclerosis. I found them on – and I found comfort and life long friendships.

One of the biggest questions we ask ourselves, is are we going to go back to normal after an attack. It’s possible yes, but it doesn’t always happen for people with Multiple Sclerosis. I’m weaker than I used to be, physically. It’s due to the fact that my MS has held me back from doing everything that I used to do, but also because the attacks I’ve had in the past have affected certain areas of my body as well.

We all want to be healthy, and not be on meds, and not be in pain… to not have to suffer the emotional toll that MS can bring. Who would want to go through everything that we do? I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do what I have grown to love, and that’s being apart of the MS Community and really helping others, communicating, trying to make a difference. Considering I had no idea what MS was before I was diagnosed, I know I wouldn’t be here today had I not been diagnosed.

If you look at the before vs. after for me personally, you will see that I’m the same person over all. I just have limitations that I have to compensate for and/or deal with. But I’ve grown from the experience… I’m stronger, or at least I think I am. What I thought was hard/difficult to deal with before I was diagnosed, is not even a big deal now.

As time has gone by since I was diagnosed, which was in 2010… I’ve sort of stopped wondering if I will ever be back to what I was before I was diagnosed. The answer for me, is no. I might get back to how I was physically, but mentally I wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t want to go back and undo everything that I’ve learned and how I’ve grown over time.

Have there been hardships along the way? That’s a big fat yes… but no one ever said that life was easy. I know that I’m probably portraying a lot of mixed emotions in this article, but that’s because I have mixed emotions about the topic. Not wanting to live with Multiple Sclerosis, ever, but not wanting to rid myself of what I’ve gained in the journey since my diagnosis. Does that make sense?

I don’t know if others feel this way, so I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I just had to put it out there. WHEN (not if) there is a Cure for Multiple Sclerosis, I know I can’t be who I was before, and I don’t want to be. But I will move on with what I’ve gained in my journey, and no longer be an MS fighter, but an MS survivor.

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” – Charles Bukowski


Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Claudia Steiger
    4 years ago

    Dear Ashley, your article is very well written. I too asked me the question few times what my life would look like without MS. But to answer this question is kind of impossible as my life with MS is not worse…it’s different, but as you wrote…I changed and I like the person I became. I met new friends and I wouldn’t want to miss them in my life anymore. Take care, all the best for you! Cheers, Claudia

  • @masbrautigam
    4 years ago

    Could not have said it better!!!Feel the same funny enough thinking of the before or after.Almost scary to think of MS free…….what then???Tennis like crazy?Walk fast paced again?Rush around all day?

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