The past two years have held a lot of challenges for me, and through them I've found many opportunities to grow personally in ways I couldn't have anticipated. In the months leading up to my diagnosis of RRMS in 2019 I'd been living as so many of us do, running on a near-constant state of stress. I was working a demanding full-time job that had significantly increased in responsibility, while also managing the life and household expectations of being Mom to two young children. I was left feeling drained on a daily basis, I wasn't making time for my own wants/needs. Work and family came first and too often the "me time" I left for myself was limited to a little screentime before crashing every night. I put on weight, I felt irritable, unfocused, I didn't feel like myself at all anymore. Something was off, I couldn't think clearly, felt totally thrown off by every curveball work and life threw at me, I didn't understand why.
When I decided at the end of December 2018 to focus on improving my nutrition and start exercising, these usually positive practices had the opposite effect. It wasn't "self care," I pushed myself too hard and didn't have enough respect for my body's limits, determined to maximize the time I'd allotted for exercise. Then after a strenuous evening workout, I woke up in early January unable to feel the right half of my body. I could move it, but couldn't feel anything at all. I went through a battery of tests, but still had more questions than answers. Gradually the feeling returned, but routine activities now require focus or I fumble/trip. I still didn't know why it was happening, but of course I didn't resume exercising. Then in February I lost most of the sight in my left eye. It was like having Vaseline smeared on my eyeball, a fog I couldn't see past. More Drs, more tests. Eventually the vision returned just like the feeling did, mostly back but with limitations. I could see again, feel again, yet the reason behind these losses remained a mystery.
In March 2019 I finally had the MRI I'd been waiting for. I'm grateful the MRI was so fast, many struggle years looking for answers. Weeks later, I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, shortly afterwards I started medication that will help prevent future relapses. Unfortunately MS meds work by suppressing my immune system, as MS is essentially a revved up immune system attacking my brain and spinal cord. So meds help, but living healthy with MS has meant committing to a lot of changes.
After continuing to struggle mentally/emotionally for several months, I decided to follow my Neurologist's advice and took leave from work in July 2019. I'm deeply grateful that I had this option, as it's offered me the opportunity to focus on fighting this illness and put my MS in a state of remission.
Life looks very different now, full of healthy daily routines like meditation, yoga, gentle exercise, gardening, reading, and family dinners serving healthy whole-foods. Some days I still feel like I'm getting to know my own brain, I often attempt a basic mental or physical activity that used to feel natural but now is a struggle, yet now I know the task is trying to tap into neurons that have been degraded by on of the 20-30 lesions in my brain. It's taken time to recognize how much mindset matters. That I can still learn, with a lot of patience and self-love, to do things differently and still accomplish my aims. MS has given me the gift of perspective, the opportunity to focus on living a life investing my energy into what I Value most.
Research into a cure for MS is still ongoing, and there are many exciting potential treatments being explored. This May 30th, my team and I will be participating in the Kingston MS Walk, raising money to support MS research. Anyone who'd like to offer their support, please feel free to make a donation. I truly appreciate anything you can offer.
Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world, and on average, 11 Canadians are diagnosed with this unpredictable illness every day. We don't know what causes MS, and we don't have a cure. Yet.
I am participating in MS Walk because I want to support the world's leading researchers discover the cause, treatments and cure for MS. Leading-edge research and support programs have improved the quality of life for people affected by MS.
When you make a donation to my fundraising, you are helping continue this incredible work.
Thank you for supporting our MS Walk community. We wouldn't be where we are today without your support.