Soul of a ballerina in an old bodyIt Began…

Fourteen years ago at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  My life changed. How could it not?  I went from exercising daily, dancing, kickboxing, rollerblading and walking all over downtown Detroit to struggling to walk from my car into work, barely being able to grocery shop, and I couldn’t use a computer keyboard for more than five minutes without having to stop to rest my right hand.  All of this was compounded by the fact that I was a police detective.  Kind of hard to do that job if you can barely walk or use your arm and hand.  Fortunately, I had a great boss and coworkers who covered for me when I would go through my exacerbations. Thanks to God and my coworkers, I was able to work five more years till I was eligible for retirement.

During this period, I grieved my life as I had known it.  I wasn’t married.  I broke off my engagement to a man I knew couldn’t handle this disease and all it could throw at us.  I didn’t want to be alone, but I knew I’d be better off alone than with him.  I went through the five stages of grief and as I did God was with me.  Telling me it was going to be okay.  I didn’t understand how, but I  knew I had to trust God.  I really had no choice.

So during this five year period, I tried to stop focusing on myself and what I had lost.  I started volunteering at church. I became a mentor. I dated, always telling the guy up front that I had MS.  If we got serious, it wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have three or four months into the relationship. Finding out at that point he couldn’t handle it. And I continued to exercise.  All these things I did to the best of my ability  depending on my physical condition at any given time.  I wanted to continue to live life with the hand I had been dealt.

Eventually in 2007, I met Jamie, the man I would marry.  He wanted to marry me despite the uncertainty of this disease.  During our eight years of marriage, we have endured several exacerbations and a decline in my mobility.  But throughout it all he has loved me, encouraged me and inspired me to keep fighting to maintain the mobility I have which is walking with a cane or a walker.

Jamie, my awesome family and friends, physical therapy and working out with a trainer have all helped me stay mobile, active and able to live a awesome and active life.

So much so, that in the last nine months I’ve made two trips to France which was my life-long dream.  Though I have a disease that make some days more of a challenge than others, MS doesn’t define me or keep me from doing most things–I just have to think outside the box and believe I can do whatever I set my mind to do.

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