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Empowered to Live Beyond Effects of MS

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.

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.


  • itasara
    2 years ago

    My life before MS I thought was perfectly normal. I never had numbness, or tingling except when a foot would “fall asleep” which is a normal phenomena. I had 5 children from age 27 to 35. I never new anything was amiss for me. Then out of the blue, my 20 yr old daughter at the time was diagnosed with MS. That was a real shocker. I remember she had little complaints hear and there but nothing considered something to worry about.. Three years later I woke up with numbness from one of the symptoms that was the same that my daughter had, T M, and I knew what it was right away. A followup brain MRI showed a bunch of inactive MS lesions. The only symptoms I found out later that a had sometime before this was mild MS Hugs, and an occasion sensory feeling of ?weakness in my arms. But I ignored those as nothing. It was a surprise to me that I had MS.
    It has since been over 12 years. I can’t say I have gotten worse, but a recent MRI (first one in 11 years showed some increase in scaring and lesions but no active ones, and it showed brain shrinkage. So I am going to see a specialist in about a month. Not sure what she’ll say. I am now 70.

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