Meet Heidie Kraig, diagnosed December 2009
I struggled with headaches and double vision as well as nausea for months. I made frequent trips to the doctor and several trips to the ER before they finally came to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It was terrifying, and I felt as though no one knew much about the illness. I was hoping I was misdiagnosed, so we went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for a second opinion. Unfortunately, they confirmed what we already knew. I was taken off work until my vision improved, which was almost two months. It was devastating not being able to work (or see). I was unsure if my vision would ever improve. Luckily, everything returned to normal and I was able to return to work and my normal life. Shortly after my diagnosis, I went crazy researching and studying and learning all I could about MS. It is definitely a daily struggle, and I wouldn't wish this upon anyone. I do have an amazing support system of friends and family. There is no way I would be able to get through this alone.
In what way has MS made the biggest impact on your life?
MS has taught me not to take anything for granted. Time is too limited as it is, and there is no guarantee that we will have tomorrow. It has made me re-evaluate the way that I care for myself, and I have been trying to eat healthier and incorporate exercise into my daily life. I need to stay in the best shape possible because I refuse to let MS rob me of my life.
Why did you decide to participate in Walk MS?
I started walking in Walk MS the first year after I was diagnosed. Immediately after my diagnosis, I felt very strongly about informing others about my illness, and I gathered a group of my friends, family and co-workers and was team captain for the first walk.
What’s your favorite thing about Walk MS?
I enjoy seeing everyone gathered for a common interest. It is great to meet others who know exactly what you are dealing with.
How many years have you participated in the event?
This will be my third year walking.
What is one thing you wish people could understand about MS?
The biggest thing I wish people would understand is that I REALLY AM SICK. It is often frustrating because I feel as though no one believes me when I state I am not feeling well or exhausted. It seems as though I am healthy because I don't "look" ill, although I am struggling just to perform day-to-day activities. Not that I want to look ill outwardly, but it sure would help others understand that there is more going on than just what they see.
What is the most important, meaningful or memorable connection you have made since being diagnosed with MS or having someone close to you diagnosed?
I met an amazing woman on a Women of Faith conference who happened to have MS as well. It was wonderful being able to connect with someone who had previously been in my shoes. She helped me find a new neurologist and encouraged me to start caring for myself again after I had given up the fight for over a year.
What makes you a great walk ambassador?
I have a positive attitude and big shoulders. I'm more than willing to lend an ear, and I will help in any way I can.
What makes your story with MS unique?
Nothing makes me more unique than anyone else. Everyone has their own story; mine may be different than others, but the underlying fact is that we are all battling this incurable illness.
Heidie may be reached for interviews at firstname.lastname@example.org. To speak with a National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter spokesperson,please contact Anna at 612-335-7918 or email@example.com.
Walk MS 2013
Join Heidie and thousands of others by getting involved in Walk MS. To learn more, register or donate, visit myMSwalk.org.