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Opportunity to Achieve Success

I began working at Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilites (TACID) in January 2012. Little did I know I would come to use it’s services in a very personal way. My experience includes teaching adapted physical to students with cognitive delays and physical disabilities. I also worked for several years for a state Special Olympics organization. I have seen my students and athletes meet life with courage and joyfulness. But, when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in January 2013, my world spun out of control.

I have been an athlete all my life. I have traveled extensively. I was a single mom who was very active with my children. I have taught physical education, adapted physical education, coached swimming and gymnastics, and coached Special Olympic local and international athletes.

So when I started falling 10 or so years ago, for no apparent reason, I was suspicious of something being wrong. Doctors, however, couldn’t find any reason for the falling.

About three years ago, I started having weakness in my right hand and right leg. This caused severe mobility issues and activities of daily living became difficult.

When I found out I needed a total hip replacement, I thought my troubles would be over. Ha!! After the surgery, and many more doctors appointments and MRI’s, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 60. (My neurologist is sure I have had it for 25-30 years.)

While this was a relief that I wasn’t just going crazy, I went into a slide emotionally. I struggled with depression and grief. I realized that my life would never be the same again.

While my Christian faith is a foundation of my life and is vital to me along this path, I also thank TACID for walking with me along this new life journey.

TACID stands on the prinicples of inclusion, respect, dignity and worth. The peer support model helped me get plugged in right away with others who are walking on the MS journey. Leadership and staff are walking with me shoulder to shoulder. I have even taken the MS Self-Help Leader training so I can begin to give back to others.

Without the help of my workplace, friends, family and NMSS, I may still be stuck in the mud of grief and despair. Instead, I see the victorious light at the end of the tunnel.

My journey is by no means over, and I expect some bumps in the road. Without my support system here to support, empower, encourage, and model self-sufficiency and independence for me; life would be filled with isolation and fear.

Instead we have the opportunity to achieve success, overcome obstacles, and envision a successful future!!

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.


  • Lisa Emrich moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi jmaxwell,
    I love your final statement – “Instead we have the opportunity to achieve success, overcome obstacles, and envision a successful future!!”

    What a blessing to already have such a great support system in place when you faced your own crisis. I remember when I was first diagnosed and it really was at least a year before I started to get a handle on the roller coaster of emotions.

    Be patient with yourself and expect that you might feel more ups and downs. But knowing that you are not alone is so very important. I hope you are doing well.

    Take care,

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