If life gives you lemons, make a gin and tonic...

Five years ago, I developed optic neuritis in my left eye. I thought it was just a sign that I was getting old, my eyesight was failing and I couldn’t avoid the need for glasses any longer. I didn’t expect to be told that this could be the on-set of MS.

MS is not a pleasant condition to live with, and it makes life somewhat unpredictable. But isn't unpredictability a part of every life? I could bemoan the unfairness of having being dealt this particular hand. After all, I am only 37 and there is still so much I want to do. Alternatively, I can continue living my life, and if MS wants to come along for the ride, so be it. But we're playing by my rules.

In November 2012 , I found myself in the MS relapse clinic, having experienced my first major relapse. For three days, I was pushed around in a wheelchair, having lost the use of my left leg. It would have been very easy for me to fall into the role of victim. After all, I had doctors and nurses on hand, treating me with kid gloves. I am glad I am blessed with a positive attitude. I had to put up a bit of a fight, but the doctors agreed to let me continue my recovery at home. Two weeks after leaving hospital, I met with my consultant, who was pleasantly surprised to see me walking almost normally, albeit with the assistance of a stick.

Unfortunately, a second relapse in March 2013 saw my mobility further affected. 19 months on and I am still using crutches to get around. I have also started taking Copaxone. But one of the most important things I have done is change my lifestyle. I was fortunate enough to find Professor Jelinek’s Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis program, which I have been following since April 2013. This is a program that focusses on the importance of following a whole food diet, low in saturated fat, and adopting meditation and exercise as part of daily life to manage the symptoms of MS. Knowing that I am ‘doing whatever it takes’ to tackle this condition is empowering and keeps me positive. Please visit this site if you’re not familiar with Jelinek’s work. It will be the best thing you have ever done!: www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org.

Self-belief is one of the most important tools for dealing with MS. It is easy to become disheartened, knowing that this condition has no known cure as yet. The internet is full of horror stories, and negative views which can make it difficult to remain positive. Having lived with MS for the last five years I have learned the following:

1. Everyone's journey with MS is different.
2. The only expert in your MS is YOU.
3. You have to take responsiblity for your wellbeing - there is no magic pill.
4. If we want people to gain a better understanding of this condition, we need to share our experiences.
5. It ain't the end of the world - life's what you make it; MS or not.

In 2012 I started my blog. This is my way of raising awareness of MS, and hopefully giving fellow MSers a more positive slant on the condition.
Here's the address, if you want to have a look: www.rachelhogg.wordpress.com

We all have the ability to be positive!

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