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Keeping Active


“We learn the inner secret of happiness when we learn to direct our inner drives, our interest and our attention to something besides ourselves.” – Ethel Percy Andrus

Some days I am slower than usual. I guess that comes with the diagnosis. Maybe I should take advantage of this opportunity to relax but taking it easy was never my strong point. I was the one that was always active. I was always on the go. I remember as a little girl, adults telling me to slow down. Well now that I have no other choice but to move at a slower pace I am finally realizing what they meant.

I use to spend more time at work with co-workers than I did with family and friends. I believed I needed to work more than 40 hours so I could have more money to buy more stuff. But because I was working so much I could never enjoy the stuff I had worked so hard to get.

Since MS forced me to quit my job, instead of working all the time and wishing to have more vacations and holidays, I am constantly searching for constructive ways to fill my free time. It took me a while to get use to this method of living but I think I may be getting the hang of it.

The key is to have a schedule. Every Sunday I sit down and create an itinerary for the upcoming week. Whenever I tell my husband that I am bored he always asks, “What do you have scheduled for today?” If I have nothing planned he helps me think of activities to fill my time.

The cool thing is, while most people’s schedules are dominated by 8 hours of work, my schedule is comprised of pastimes like swimming, going to the park and horseback riding. When I say it out loud it sounds like a permanent vacation but these pursuits have truly become a huge part of my life and a major asset in my constant rehabilitation.

Usually such activities are used to relax and get away from job responsibilities. But for me, I’m trying to get away from MS. I know MS goes with me everywhere I go but largely it’s the daily routines that keep MS prominent in my life. I need to break up my every day habits. My extra curricular activities give me a chance to have moments when I can actually forget I have MS. Most days I am so busy that I don’t have time to think about the negative aspects on the disease. It’s almost as if I’m MS free for at least a couple of hours.

I also like the fact that these activities are not centered on multiple sclerosis. It allows me to focus on something else besides the monster.

My new goal is to find a happy medium and I think I have. As an able-bodied person I was always moving so fast that I missed the simple things in life. Then after my second relapse I just sat around and pretty much did nothing but watch TV. Nowadays, I am enjoying life by moving slower but still being active. I respect my limitations and I listen to my body. As matter of fact my body is telling me to stop typing now because my hand is starting to act up. But I will not let that stop me. Instead, I think I’ll go to the park..well after the sun goes down!

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.


  • Tonia
    6 years ago

    I can totally relate. After working for almost 30 years, I felt the same way. I have been for the past 4 years been searching foe some kind of part-time work, but to no avail, I think my cane scares potential employers away, but I will keep trying.

  • Julie
    6 years ago

    I was diagnosed in September 2013 and have been out of work since then. At this point I am considering retiring early as the idea of returning to a stressful job causes my symptoms to increase. This is a very new concept for me because I too have been used to being active and constantly on the go. I’m learning day by day to listen to my body and take things slowly, not an easy task. I like the idea of making a weekly schedule, it will certainly keep my mind active and keep my body moving, even if it is much slower than normal. I am certainly going to look into volunteering somewhere, because I know there are many people who are much worse off than myself.

  • Tommy Johns
    7 years ago

    Oh how I identify with your story. MS forced me into retirement at 44 years of age. Much like yourself, those first 2 or 3 years were awful. I found out rather quickly that 8 hours of extra time everyday is a lot of space to fill. Particularly if you don’t have an unlimited budget. Then throw into the mix MS fatigue and other assorted MS gems and you end up with a recipe for depression of the highest degree.
    One day while at the MS office I learned of a program they had. I can’t remember the name of the program, but they would set you up with an individual with MS that was in the nursing home and you would go visit them at least once a month. Since my retirement I always felt I wasn’t doing anything worth while, so I signed up to visit a women in a facility not to far from where I live. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The women I visited was completely paralyzed by MS, but she always had smile on her face and was so glad to see me come rollin’ in. we became very close friends and I would go spend an hour with her every Thursday morning. It help me as much if not more than her, and it didn’t require much energy or money to do it. It also reminded me how blessed I was to be able to get out and about independently.
    That sweet little lady has passed on now, but she was a lifesaver for me in early retirement. Of course I too have settled into retirement. It has now been 15 years since I enter those doors on a daily basis, and I seldom miss it, except for the many friends that I had there.
    These days I spend my time riding my power chair around the small rural community where I live visiting with the locals of which I am one. Then… with all that free time on my hands I discovered that I enjoy writing, and I am now a published author!
    It all comes down to one thing, attitude. Life does not have too be perfect to be enjoyed.

  • Nicole Lemelle author
    7 years ago

    Tommy,I often wonder what it would have been like if I could have worked longer

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