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.