Hello my name is Michelle Walsh and I was diagnosed with MS 24 years ago. It all began when I was 18 years old, in my first semester of College, living an hour away from home when I started to notice something was not right with my body. I got very electric pins/needles in my arms and legs that were so painful it felt like they were plugged into the light socket. I went through 4 different emergency room visits only to be told by the doctors “it must be stress and go rest you will feel better”. As the weeks went on I didn’t feel better. Things got worse with an over whelming fatigue I could barely get out of bed in the mornings no matter how long I slept so I called my parents to say I know there’s something else going on with me. My mom is a nurse and she knew there was something not right either. I drove home to see my family doctor who then referred me to a Neurologist who specialized in MS. The Neurologist did several neurological physical tests and after he said “I am 90% sure you have Multiple Sclerosis” Over the next few months I had a spinal tap and MRI that confirmed this. I have never forgotten this day the bombshell was dropped.
I was initially very mad and sad. I thought what kind of life will I have now? Will I ever find anyone who will want to marry me because of this diagnosis? So many emotions went through my head for the first while sad, anger, disbelief, etc. I just couldn’t understand how I could run long distances before and be so active months ago to now being so tired that I can barely get out of bed. I was diagnosed with Relapsing-remitting MS so when I learned to pace myself, not over do it I could manage this MS monster.
I competed for Rodeo Queen Contests and won two titles to then advance to compete for Miss Rodeo Canada. Another one of my dreams was to be a Flight Attendant and I went on to do this too. I flew all over the world and saw so many amazing places and worked with many amazing colleagues. I also in this time of my life met the man of my dreams. Mutual friends of ours set us up and we hit it off instantly and have never looked back. We have been together for 13 years now, married for 10 and have three beautiful, healthy children. We live on a mixed farming operation in southwest Saskatchewan.
So after being diagnosed for over 24 years I have learnt a lot of things that I want to share with others who have MS
- To take this MS monster one day at a time. Be kind to yourself and stop putting unrealistic expectations on yourself. If it’s the kind of day where you are fatigued then prioritize what really needs to get done to get through the day and what can wait for another day.
- Accept the kindness and help of others if they are offering it. Trust me this is still a hard one for me to deal with because we want to try to be independent as long as we can. But if someone is offering to help you out when you are not feeling well this is out of kindness and concern for us and you should take it because you are no less of a person for accepting their help. You are just being smart in conserving your energy and realizing that others care and want to help.
- We lose a lot of dignity with this disease be it with our bladder, bowels, vision loss etc and if you set your pride aside and use the devices that are available to make your quality of life a little easier this will help your stress levels. Once I got past my pride and realized I needed the cane/walker/scooter to get around with it made my life so much easier with less falls.
- Try to talk to someone you trust be in a close friend, relative, your psychologist because keeping your emotions in will not do you any favours but it physically flares up your MS. Also doing whatever type of activities to help manage your stress such as yoga, meditation, massage therapy, listening to music you like whatever works for you helps to keep your stress levels down. This is so very crucial in regards to managing our illness. When I worry or get stressed too much this can bring on a relapse in a heartbeat for me.
I am so very honoured to be Blogging for Moms with MS now and hope I can connect with other MSkuteer moms and dads out there so we all feel connected and not alone. Living with MS as a Mom has its challenges for sure but it can be done.
Please connect with me on Twitter @exflygal
Until my next blog take care,
Board Member for Canadian Neurovascular Health Society