Empowered to Live Beyond Effects of MS

Last updated: February 2018

I’m not sharing with you an essay dedicated to celebrating my MS Diagnosis Day anniversary, but let me get this out of the way: I was diagnosed on February 14, 2000.

As I pointed this out to Jennifer, we counted the number of years on our fingers to ensure my mathematical accuracy. I have lived with MS for 18 years.

That's 6,570 days on my most recent anniversary date.

What was life like before MS?

It freaked me out as I paused and thought about this milestone. I realized I don’t really remember what my life was like before I was diagnosed with this chronic progressive disease of the central nervous system.

From my diagnosis date, I never have looked back on or longed for “the way things used to be.” Instead, I have accepted that this is the way it is today and continue to look at what I can do to make my tomorrow better.

It seems as though my hands and feet always have been numb. I always have had high levels of fatigue. My bladder never has been very strong. Thoughts in my head forever have overwhelmed me. This is how it’s always been in my life, right?

Sort of, but not really.

What has changed?

The reality is, yes, I used to be able to feel the computer keyboard with my fingers and type my stories A LOT faster. I could pull all-nighters and still function the following day. I never had to immediately stop conversations because I had to go to the restroom. Climbing three flights of stairs never wore me out for the next two hours. Playing pick-up games of basketball and just shooting baskets (because I actually could feel the basketball) were my go-to pastimes.

But because of my MS, fingers that lack feeling, liquids that need urgent releasing and a body that requires regular resting all have drastically altered my life as it once was.

Pieces of the past

This isn’t to say I don’t fondly recall the memories of yesteryear. I mean, we all love reliving the glory days similar to the ones of which Bruce Springsteen sings. But those all are pieces of our past, whether or not we were diagnosed with MS.

Rather than cursing the disease and imagining what might have been, I have learned that it’s a better investment of my time and energy to acknowledge the MS but then go and make the most of what my life can be right now.

Adapting to the changes

So I can’t type as well. Dragon NaturallySpeaking and voice-recognition smart phone apps are there when I need the help. I since have gotten better at managing my time and taking on fewer projects so all-nighters aren’t needed, I limit my fluid intake, and walking is a less-strenuous exercise for my 45-year-old body than the hardcourt.

These are a few of the many ways that MS has impacted my life.

But at the end of the day, I’m empowered to know that I am the one controlling how I choose to live it – barely looking back and forever moving forward.

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