Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Back Draft of Life

Looking back at my life, there are many events that have transpired. Some of these events have been happy, some sad, and then there are those that have been trying. One such event in my life that ended up turning into the most important was the day in which I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.). Before this day, I was living my life to the fullest as a firefighter; and after that fateful day, I was forced to slow down and “restart” my life. As the weeks have turned into years, this event has evolved into the best thing that could have happened to me. It has made me step back and analyze and realize what is important in my life.

If someone would have asked me how my life was before being diagnosed with M.S., my answer would have been, “full steam ahead.” I was a firefighter in Laurel, Maryland, a town outside Washington D.C. At that point in time there were no worries on my mind other than, when the next meal was going to be and when the next fire was going to happen. My work day consisted of one twenty-four hour shift what was followed by seventy-two hours off. During this time “off”, there was little sleep or recovery time. There were extra shifts to work and plenty of bars to frequent. I lived by this phrase: there is enough time to sleep when we are dead. I was moving too fast to notice while my health started to go downhill slowly.

I was forced to take notice of my health when my symptoms became too much to be overlooked and ignored. After an attempt to celebrate my birthday was unsuccessful, my gift turned out to be a trip to the emergency room. My condition was beyond their abilities to manage, and I earned a transfer to Georgetown University Hospital. I was not used to being the patient in the back of the ambulance, so the trip seemed to take forever. Once at the hospital, the pace at which I was being treated became more urgent. There were a myriad of tests and MRIs that seemed to go on forever. The night had the appearance of being never-ending, and at that point all I wanted to do was sleep. There was still one question left to be answered: the diagnosis. While I lay in bed recovering from the night’s events, three doctors entered the room with their findings. The next words that I heard were Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. These words forever changed my life; the old was out the window. My new focus in life was my health and well-being.

During this ongoing journey of living with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.), I have been forced to seat back and realize that I have M.S., but M.S. does not have me. At the beginning, this path seemed impossible, but as time went on I was able to realize that these courses of events have turned out to be for the best. Dr. Carlo Tornatore, a doctor who was part of my treatment early on, came to me and, with a straight face, told me that I was in better health now than before I was diagnosed. I didn’t fully realize what he meant at the time, but now the comment makes sense. Borderline high blood pressure, diabetes and being almost three hundred pounds were just a few problems to which he was referring. Since this day things in my life have made drastic shifts. I have been taking care of myself physically with exercise and weight maintenance along with a change in my career goals. The latter of these two changes has been very enjoyable. There are still struggles with my health on occasion, but that is to be expected. I am working along with taking classes and I must say that this is more than I ever expected to be able to do.

From time to time it has been necessary for me to look back at my life and see how much I have been able to accomplish. In the beginning of this journey, I had no idea what was ahead working was my main concern; from running into burning buildings and helping others to being the person in need of all the help. It has been part of an ongoing process that has led me to where I am today. After losing my vision for seven months, with complete blackout, how I am looking at life takes on a whole new meaning. Colors are brighter and I try to take in everything that I see around me. I have learned never to take the “small things” for granted. It is surprising how your outlook on life changes once a major medical event forces you to stop and notice the flowers in your life. It is then that you realize that they have been there all along.

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.


  • Theater Geek
    6 years ago

    I went blind as well. I was in kindergarten at the time. Just woke up one morning and couldn’t see. I hid it from my parents for a couple weeks until my teacher decided to test me after seeing me touch the walls as we walked. She called my parents and from there I ended up in Children’s Hospital for a year. My vision came back out of no where on it’s own after that year…but back then they didn’t even consider MS for kids. So I was poked and proded that whole year while they tried to find something. I will say going blind again scares me…especially with having a 4 year old. But I went from that year in kindergarten until 2001 without symptoms and now they have the CRAB meds and such. Like you said…you look at things differently. Though I still don’t put my health first…my son’s health and happiness trumps me any day! And I love the title you chose…especially after seeing you were a fire fighter.

  • Sonya
    6 years ago

    An excellent reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves, especially when fighting MS. I so agree, those two little letters, certainly do make a difference in one’s life, & how they view it.
    I too, was affected with loss of eyesight, but unlike you, mine came one eye at a time, 3 years apart. I was terrified of losing my eyesight permanently! Each time it was diagnosed as optical neuritis, my sight returned in about 3 months, albeit not to its original state, & then the seizures began, hence my diagnosis. That was 6 years ago. I had just become a grandmother for the first time, & I was determined to do what I could for myself. I too look at the beauty of nature, colors, & life in a whole different way. I drink in the faces of my grandchildren, trying to remember each delicate feature, & their precious smiles.
    I pray your journey will remain one of optimism.
    It’s been so nice to chat with you.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    PS – And I love the reference in your title. Well chosen.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    amazing how those two letters – MS – transform us. I am glad it has caused the positive changes in your lifestyle. Keep it up! ~Laura

  • David13690 author
    6 years ago

    Thank you for the comment on the submission. I have to agree that those two letters do change our lives and we really have no idea how much. Glad that you liked the title. It seemed just right for when I was writing this.

  • Poll