NOTE: I do not have a medical degree of any sort. The following information is my personal description of the disease as I understand it from what I’ve been told by doctors and from my own personal research. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
This is probably one of the most important sections of this mini-guide: Taking back your life! MS can come into your life in many different ways, for some people it is a slow process, for others (like me) it can hit you like a truck running a red light at an intersection. In just one month I went from A-OK to half paralyzed, half numb, half blind, unable to walk or stand, and stuck being pushed around in a wheelchair… How ever MS entered your life there is one thing that is certain: MS has taken some part of your life away. It might have taken your ability to walk, to run, to see, to speak, to feel, to think, and more then likely you want that back and you want it back NOW.
Well, unfortunately the healing process can take some time… How long you ask? Well it’s different for everyone which is the annoying part… It could take a matter of weeks or months to reach recovery and at the same time there is no guarantee that you will go into a complete state of remission right away… It’s all going to depend on the individual and severity of their attack. Either way I believe the process to taking back your life is the same whether your simply dealing with some drop foot or if you completely can’t move your legs, some will have to work harder then others to get through their symptoms but we all possess the power to do it!
So how did I go from the horrible state I was in to what I would call “remission”? Honestly I owe a lot of credit to my stubbornness and pride… My doctor told me that it would be useless to try to train myself to walk again or to use my left hand, she said I should just rest. I couldn’t do that. I got my fair share of rest, don’t get me wrong, but I could not just sit around an do nothing. I did everything I could to get around the house on my own: First I needed a walker to get down the hall, then after a while I started testing the waters as I ventured throughout my house without the support of a walker but instead the support of the walls and furniture around me. My balance was improving and I focused a lot of my efforts on correcting my gate to eliminate my drop foot. Soon I was walking relatively well throughout my house so long as I was continuously aware of myself and my movements.
Still I got lots of rest, I knew I couldn’t push myself too hard or else I would just make things worse but I believed the key to recovery was to keep moving and that’s exactly what I did, I kept moving. I was soon getting on the treadmill and eventually going for walks. My walking was getting better and better along with my balance and everything else. I was active, eating healthier, and felt great! After a few months I was hanging out with friends again, going out, going on hikes and pushing myself further and further every day. I finally realized that I was now more active then I had been before I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis!
My first MS attack started on August 1st, 2010 and about 3 months later, on October 22,2010, I declared myself to have reached a state of remission! I would say I was about 95% recovered as I still had some slightly fuzzy vision and minor sensitivity to cold on the right side of my body. Other then that I felt like myself again! I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to let my life or my youth waste away, I was going to go do things, experience things, see the world inside and out, be productive, and be happy.
I launched my “Campaign of Activity” about a month later by visiting an old friend of mine up in northern California (I live in Southern California). It was an 11 hour trip on both a bus and train, I had just bought myself an SLR camera as I wanted to take up photography and I was taking pictures like mad occasionally taking a brake to work on a novel I had started. I spent a little over a week up there and during that time I went on many walks, took lots of pictures, and even drove to San Francisco where I went on a small cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz! I saw a lot up there, it was amazing!
Even after everything I did and saw there is one simple event that has stuck with me pretty vividly. One night my friend Candice and I decided we were going to go for an evening jog around town. At first I was unsure of how I would hold up as I hadn’t tried any such exercise since long before my diagnosis. To my surprise I was doing just fine! After a while our pace picked up, I didn’t mentally notice it right away but I was enjoying the jog! I used to hate running but this time I was actually enjoying it! Our jog slowly turned into a run and out of nowhere we burst into a sprint through the cold, dark, air. We began to race and all I remember thinking was “There is no way she is faster then me, no way”. I left her in the dust, someone who runs almost every day, I left her in the dust and after I stopped to catch my breath I realized: For that brief period of time the fact that I had MS did not cross my mind. It was at that moment that I knew I had taken my life back.
Since then I have relapsed again and am not having the same luck recovering as I did the first time around however, that doesn’t matter because what is important is that I gained the mentality that I can still be in control of my life. I gained the knowledge that MS does not own me, I’m not stuck with MS, MS is stuck with me! MS can only rule our lives if we let it and so the secret to taking your life back is all in your head! You have to acknowledge that yes MS is a huge obstacle but it is nothing but an obstacle. Despite the severity of your symptoms you still have the choice as to how you handle your MS obstacle! When MS took the fine motor control away from my left hand rendering me incapable of typing, I didn’t just stop writing my novel, I wasn’t going to let MS controll my life, so I bought a microphone and started using voice recognition software so I could speak into the mic and let the computer do the typing for me. When my vision faded I simply made the letters on my computer bigger! I was disabled but I was not “unabled”, I worked around my obstacles.
Every obstacle MS throws at you can be worked around as long as you acknowledge the fact that it can somehow be worked around. The minute you say you can’t is the minute you have let MS win. You can, you can, you can! Drill it in your head, there is always a way, always!
Tough times never last but tough people do!
When it comes to taking your life back all that matters is determining what it is you want to do with your life, what it is you need to be happy, and how your going to make that happen regardless of your symptoms. Know your limits but find a way to accomplish your endeavors even if you have to wait a while to heal some. Learn all you can about this disease! “Know thy enemy”. Knowledge will prove to be a deadly weapon against MS and knowledge is free so take advantage of that. Don’t stop moving! Use your body how ever you can! Find the right medication regimen for you and the right diet plan so that you can speed up your healing process and hopefully prevent another relapse as bad as your first. Do this and you will once again feel in control! You will take your life back!