Last month was the 20th anniversary of my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
I remember sitting on the edge of my bed in the hospital and thinking that at least now I knew what it was. I was in an unusual situation because since I am adopted, I have no family health history. So, I had no clues as to what the symptoms might have been. At the time of diagnosis, I was the single parent of two young girls, who were three years old and 20 months old.
I think that for most people, that would have been a very frightening time. I have always believed, though, that God never gives you more than you can handle. Looking back on the diagnosis, though, I knew then, as I know now, you just need to have a great attitude and keep going. That may seem rather smug to some, but having worked for many years with the MS Society, I can confirm that it is the best thing to do.
Now, I will say that despite, my MS, I have been very blessed. I am still upright. There have been rough times, but so far, I have only needed either a walker or cane to help me to get around. I have some memory difficulties, so I compensate with reminder notes. Every symptom, at least so far, there has been a compensating control for. Can you tell I work in IT compliance—always the logical one!
Compensating controls have had to include three months off work to recover from a five relapse year, injecting Copaxone for 15 years, constant reminder notes, Poise pads for bladder difficulties, assistance with dressing in the morning, and planning my activities, so that I don’t get too tired. It is all doable stuff to keep me going.
So, in the last 20 years, I raised my kids on my own, managed to continue to work full-time so that I can actually retire soon and fit in courses on teaching adults and writing for children and actually writing for children. All of that, living with MS and, of course, my faith that God will always help me to manage.
My MS became secondary progressive about seven years or so ago. But again, I am blessed with a very slow progression that means I shouldn’t need a wheelchair for quite a few years yet.