Community Member Spotlight: Paul
One of our amazing community members reached out to our team following one of our weekly newsletters. Once we heard a little about Paul's story, we knew the rest of the community would want to hear it as well! Paul is the founder of H2O Environmental Restoration Project based out of Spokane, Washington and is living with primary progressive MS (PPMS). He generously shared his time and parts of his MS journey in this interview.
Paul's PPMS story
Paul shares details from his diagnosis to daily life to what inspires him:
What was your PPMS diagnosis experience?
I was diagnosed in 2008 by a doctor at WSU. I had taken a fall and hit my head. They did imaging and called later that evening to inform me that I had MS in my brain and spinal column. I had fallen at work due to increasing loss of balance and fatigue. Prior to that, I had noticed that my limbs and body were starting to feel tired all the time. Being a working man, I ignored the symptoms for the better part of 3 years until I took that fall. I could no longer ignore the symptoms after the imaging results came back. I was immediately referred to WSU MS Research Department and that’s where my diagnosis was confirmed. From there, I ended up in Spokane, under the care of a neurologist. He has since retired, and I am now under the care of a doctor at Providence Neurology.
What is daily life like for you while living with PPMS?
I have to set my mind each morning, knowing that I have to put on bilateral braces in order to ensure my safety. I wake up each morning just hoping that my legs are still working. I often have to fight through mood changes, headaches, fatigue, and memory loss. I have started to find it harder and harder to just remember people’s names. Thankfully, daily care of myself, my spouse, and my children are still the top priority for me, so I don’t experience many issues in that area.
What is your inspiration? What gets you through the challenging days?
First and foremost, my family. My wife and I have 2 special needs children (autism/sensory processing disorder/ADHD), 2 teenagers, and adult children. My wife works to support our household, so I take care of our children, and everything that comes with them being special needs (therapies and appointments), and our beautiful home. I find a lot of pride and accomplishment in that.
In addition, I have created a really awesome group of men who push me to be better every day. We formed a magnet fishing company and non-profit called H2O Magnet Fishing Environmental Restoration Project. We go out into our community and pull the harmful metal objects from the river bottom. The health of our waterways is incredibly important to us, as well as being able to give back to our community. We regularly hold events for children and special needs adults, just to get them out there in nature and give them something fun to do. We have been given the key to the city for our environmental impact. Every day the dream seems to be growing bigger and I couldn’t be more proud. This organization has given me a purpose in my personal journey of acceptance of my MS diagnosis. I love my family and I love this organization and all of the members in it. I have found a new lease on life and it’s all thanks to MS. If it weren’t for MS, I feel I wouldn’t be able to appreciate all that I have right now.
The holiday season is among us and can be so stressful! Do you experience more flares during this season?