Leveraging your mind over MS

Any of us with MS understand there are days we feel better than others. Days filled with fatigue are often misunderstood by well-meaning family members and friends who believe if we only “just got out more” we wouldn’t feel so tired all the time. Now we with MS, know that fatigue is very real. People also look at most of us and see an apparently healthy person. I know how this feels because outwardly I look absolutely normal. I stumble sometimes, I lose my balance occasionally but I don’t need a walker or a wheelchair so I must be okay.

Unfortunately, my MS has affected me cognitively. My short term memory is essentially gone. I find myself looking for the same things every day; the remote to the TV, my glasses, my cell phone and my debit card. I get up every morning with the intention of putting all of these things where I know exactly where to find them. It never works. I do other things like forgetting to turn the water off in the kitchen sink and leaving the oven on when I am done cooking. I used to be a whiz at my job as an Emergency Department nurse and manager. I was forced to admit to myself in 2012, I wasn’t on top of my game anymore. I was missing deadlines, forgetting meetings and having difficulty doing things that were once very easy for me like spreadsheets and reports. I was also stumbling over words, knowing what I wanted to say, but having lots of trouble finding the right one. When I realized this, I talked with my physician who sent me to a rehabilitation psychologist who put me through hours of testing. The results were astounding, depressing and very humbling.

Reading the report, knowing I had the beginnings of dementia due to my MS I had two choices. I could slip into a deeper depression because like most with MS, I suffer from a little of that anyway. My other choice was to pull up my big girl panties and be proactive. So that for me was the only choice. What happened next was even more amazing to me.

I read a book called “The Secret”. It was not an easy read. However, I then found the DVD. I watched the DVD at least 4 times before I really understood the message, I continue to watch it occasionally now. I invested in other books written by Rhonda Byrne and others who have studied and practiced the law of attraction. To make a long story short, I changed my whole life by living by the rules of the law of attraction. The law of attraction is very basic. The law of attraction states you receive what you give, you reap what you sow. Most of us learn this as children, yet our society does not promote this in adulthood when most workplaces tend to pit workers against each other to climb the ladder. The key to success is to remain positive in all situations and find gratitude. So right now, you are thinking this woman is nuts! How can MS possibly be something to be grateful for?

Oddly, I was able turn my MS into a blessing. Yes, I said it. My first thought when my doctor told me I had MS was, thank goodness I don’t have a brain tumor! As a nurse I knew there were lots of better treatments for MS than when I first entered nursing years ago! I was admittedly a workaholic, defined by my job. Once I could no longer work, I realized my family was most important to me and set out to regain lost time. As an ER nurse, it is easy to turn cynical of people who present often and look “normal”. I learned looking normal does not mean one is “normal”. My goals have changed now, it isn’t about getting promoted, making more money or achieving higher status. My goal now is to make a difference in the lives of others in some small way every day. I share the law of attraction with others as much as I can. Some are open to it, some are not. I certainly do not push my beliefs on others, but I sure encourage a positive attitude.

I have to release negative people from my life because they drain my energy and leave me exhausted. I am very open about my MS journey. Though I wasn’t diagnosed until age 48 in 2010, my journey was very rough and complicated for the first 3 years. I now have friends pass my name along to others who are newly diagnosed and need a little support. I wake up each day hoping I can make a difference to someone in some small way. I am very excited about starting a local MS support group in my town soon. I am meeting with my chapter leaders yet this week to get some information on how to make this happen. So while my life is not what I expected it would be, I have to think it is even better! Crazy as it sounds, I have to say it’s all because of MS!!!

Penny Ake

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