1. How has MS changed your life? Learning about the unpredictability of MS, i.e., I could be walking one day and paralyzed the next was overwhelmingly frightening for a person like myself – self-motivated and highly structured, or as some people have noted a ‘control freak.’ I prefer the former description to the latter. When the initial shock of diagnosis and unpredictability wore off, I accepted the prognosis and made the decision I believed changed my life: I may not be able to control MS, but I definitely control how healthy I chose to be. I could manage my well-being with exercise, eating healthy, and work on reducing my stress level. I became a consumer of all information related to maintain good health. The way I saw it, I may have MS, but I was going to practice all the preventive behavior there was to prevent from getting any our health problems.
2. What is the most important thing you’ve learned since your diagnosis? I have to be my own best advocate and respect my physical and emotional needs. It’s my responsibility to remain educated about MS and the treatment for it, as well as being committed to maintaining my well-being. To do this, I read several of the current MS magazines and have learned to pay attention to the signals my body and heart were sending me.
3. How have you found support? Once I made a commitment to remain aware of my well-being and practice advocating for myself, I learned to ask for help to get my needs met. I also learned how to explain MS to others in order to educate them on how to support me, i.e., ‘Yes, I would love to go shopping with you, but let’s do it early in the morning when I am at my best.’
4. What is the best coping tip you’ve picked up? Gratitude for what I have rather than focusing on what I have lost or may lose.
5. What is your favorite MS- or health-related website? The MSF Facebook page
6. This is the bonus question! What question would you like to ask our readers? What have you learned from having MS and how do you use what you’ve learned to help others?
Your answer? I have learned by practicing self-awareness and gratitude I can increase my well-being. I use this information when I coach others with MS, whether it is on career, health, or life goals