Why did you decide to participate in Walk MS?
I have a lot of respect for Josh Kiley with his passion for keeping Walk MS alive in a rural community.
What’s your favorite thing about Walk MS?
This will be my first time participating in this Walk MS. Like any event, I enjoy the hearing the stories and seeing the bonding.
What are a few things you wish people understood about multiple sclerosis?
Like so many other challenges, MS is not one size fits all. I found that extremely frustrating when first diagnosed with MS. I wanted to read how it was going to impact me, address it, then move on. It doesn't work that way. MS affects everyone differently, and it can progress differently.
When my eyes are red and my speech starts to have a slur, I do wonder from time to time if people think I have been drinking. Just an educational thing. I also want people to know how many wonderful professional are out there and available. I am so thankful to have an ophthalmologist who took so much time in helping me understand what was going on when I lost the sight in my left eye. Find those caring educated people that help teach you versus just medicate you.
What’s the most important, meaningful or memorable connection you have made since being diagnosed with MS or having someone close to you diagnosed?
Two things come to mind. After the first year or so, I began to realize I have to be more of an advocate for myself and others. My neurologists are not going to have all the answers. I needed to do my own research and pay attention to the changes in my body, if I was going to better understand my health. Second, I realize that the drug I take for MS is only a portion of the solution in maintaining a healthy life style. I have figured out two to three half-hour work out sessions are important even if I feel lousy. I need to still push through it. I also know the importance of vitamins including D. I always ate a lot of veggies and consumed little sugar. I consume even less now. For me, I now know any temperature over 70 degrees causes me to have muscle spasms. I have since bought cooling vests for MS, so I am better prepared for those higher than 70 moments. The importance of sleep has also caused me to change my daily routine.
What makes you a great Walk MS Ambassador?
Walk MS is a great opportunity to bring awareness to the disease. Great advancements have been made and need to be made.
What makes your MS story unique?
When I told a friend I was diagnosed with MS and that MS is where your own body attacks your central nervous system, her first comment was: "You have always been an overachiever." Although there are many things that frustrate me with the disease, I do feel blessed in finally reaching a diagnosis as well as the opportunity to create some daily disciplines. I can't do everything I want to do in a day. My body will not allow it without spasms or complete shutdown in a day or two. MS has forced me to prioritize what I want to achieve in a day and slow down the pace at which I do it. In the process of slowing down more, I have appreciated the fullness of the day. God also blessed me with a numbness on my left side, especially around my left eye. It is a good barometer for me to gauge if I am doing too much, especially when lifting weights. The numbness intensifies, so I know I need to rest.