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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

For the newly diagnosed and struggling MSer

Lately I have read a couple blogs that made me reflect on my own experiences when I was newly diagnosed with MS. Mike wrote about "Why I cry listening to the radio." Robert Parker wrote about the major challenges he is currently suffering. Please drop by their blogs and send them some love. Below are portions of the comments I left for Mike and Robert that I wanted to share because I hope it may help other struggling MSers.

I was diagnosed in April of 2008 and I can tell you it does get easier. I used to think that maybe MS would lead me to lose my job, my house and many of the things I cared about. It has not brought any of these losses into my life but MS has taught me to slow down and prioritize. For a while I was so sick and anxious I was afraid I might have to quit my job as a teacher. Now I have finished a full school year with MS and it was ok.

Since my diagnoses, I also completed 200 hours of yoga teacher training and I am now a yoga teacher (a big dream realized). You might think I could do all this because I have mild MS but I actually had 3 relapses in the space of a year so it has not been easy. As my mental state has improved and I have learned my limits, my health has improved. Don't be afraid to rest or ask for help. Don't be afraid to cry. In the end I think you will smile more if you allow yourself to grieve. Being diagnosed makes you face your own mortality. It is a death itself but it does get easier. Hang in there!

In my first year with MS I experienced almost everything I see newly diagnosed MSers talking about. I had a panic attack every day and often puked before work. I got so depressed that I felt like I didn't want to live anymore. I couldn't even think of a reason why I bothered.

I had a driving issue very recently as well. Both my arms went numb and I got stuck at the airport too panicked to even drive. I was terrified. I thought I might have to rush to the ER. In time, it went away.

These days I take Klonopin for my anxiety attacks. It really helps. I still have bad health days too. Yesterday I stayed in bed all day because of vertigo. The difference is that now this causes only minimal panic because time has taught me that I will find a way.

I can also relate to the idea of thinking you might lose something you love. My first question after my diagnosis was: "Will I still be able to become a yoga teacher?" Sometimes I still get dizzy in yoga or can't balance but I just back off and rest when this happens. I know I still may lose huge parts of my asana (physical) practice but I trust that even in a wheelchair, I can do something. Life as you know it may be over after an MS diagnoses but that does not mean that other great opportunities do not await you. MS has really changed my life but it has also given me "gifts" I could never imagine.

Hang in there. You will find a way, it just may take time. It probably took me a year before I finally could look ahead and enjoy each day again. My therapist said that such things teach us to truly be present so I focus on one day at a time and try to make the most of it. The uncertainty was what caused my anxiety and I found the only remedy was to take each day, each minute as it comes. You will be ok.


Diane J Standiford said...

After 19yrs post DX I can agree--YOU WILL BE OK. You will be different, but that is OK.

Denver Refashionista said...

So I trust.