Pennsylvania , USA
When were you diagnosed with MS? September 2020
What type of MS do you have? Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
#1: Can you tell us a little about your journey with MS. How did you feel about your initial diagnosis and how it has affected your life?
I was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) back in 2020. What does MS look like to you? MS can be misleading as its symptoms are often felt, but not visibly apparent. The symptoms can fluctuate from day to day and differ greatly from person to person. Coping with a chronic disease that remains invisible to others, but is constantly felt, can be extremely draining. For me, as a 34-year-old woman, who is a wife, mother, full-time worker, and artist, it is a daily battle with exhaustion due to my body fighting itself. It manifests as weakness, numbness, tingling, memory loss, and vertigo. However, this experience has also helped shape me into the strong woman I am today. It has taught me to appreciate the blessings in my life and has provided me with a newfound clarity. It has served as a catalyst to reignite my passion for art, which I lost in 2020. Thanks to treatment, I am now able to create again. While MS has certainly brought negative effects into my life, the positive aspects far outweigh them. This is my new reality, and I have learned to accept it without hesitation.
#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?
Those of us with MS often keep our pain, lack of balance, trouble finding words, cognitive difficulties, vertigo, tiredness, emotional strain, and depression hidden from others. The outward appearance of individuals with MS can be deceiving, as they may appear perfectly healthy, smiling, and put together. However, like many autoimmune diseases, MS is often invisible to others, and it is crucial to raise awareness about what it truly entails. Those of us with MS are constantly fighting against our own bodies.
#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?
My family, friends, and the MS community are my greatest source of support.
#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?
I was caught off guard when my sons witnessed me using a cane for the first time. The expression on their faces said it all. It was a mixture of fear, uncertainty, and sadness. As a mother, it pains me to see them feeling this way. However, it's alright to experience such emotions and to be a little scared of the unknown. In fact, these situations provide an opportunity to enlighten others and to be humbled. We can use them to demonstrate that judging someone is not appropriate and that it's acceptable to display one's emotions. The truth is, I am just as scared as my sons are too.
#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?
I simply take one day at a time. Find the good in every day.
#6: Your story and experiences with MS are incredibly valuable and can provide encouragement and motivation to others in the community. What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with MS or going through a challenging time right now?
I struggle, but I am also doing my best to thrive. I think it’s 100% okay for both to happen. I am riding this rollercoaster…the highs and lows and I am so thankful I have a community right here to ride it with me.
#7: Have you started a business or mission related to MS? Can you tell us about it and what inspired you to take this step?
I've always had a passion for art. I have been painting for over 10 years. With my MS, I get tremors in my hand. Being an artist, not having control of your hands, and having your skills slowly taken from you is beyond frustrating. But I have found ways to work with different brushes or doing digital art to keep my passion alive. I've started an MS series to help bring awareness to MS.
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