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Getting Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

Two of my favorite things: children and nature, both key parts of my healing plan.

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006. At that time I knew nothing about MS and thought I was going to die very soon as I imagined the disease was terminal. My children, now in their teens, were in 1st and 2nd grade; I would lie in bed with them at night thinking that I wouldn’t live to see their high school graduation. Forget about seeing them get married and have children of their own.

Thankfully, my husband quickly dispelled me of the notion that the majority of people with MS die a premature death. Still, the diagnosis was absolutely shocking. All I could picture was the worst, that in a short amount of time I would be an invalid with my husband taking care of me. I was not happy about this picture.

Now, I’m doing better. Over New Year’s weekend my husband and I hiked Vail Mountain, a 2,000 foot vertical climb at high altitude (we reached 10,000 feet). When I was freaking out about my initial MS diagnosis I didn’t picture myself hiking up mountains with my uber-fit husband. How did I get up those mountains?

I created a personalized MS treatment plan:

  1. Sleep – 8 hours minimum per night, more on weekends
  2. Diet – 100% gluten and grain free
  3. Exercise – 60 minutes of walking daily
  4. Healing Movement – yoga, pilates or weight lifting 3 times per week
  5. Boundaries – keep interactions as brief as possible with people, places and things that do not impact me in a positive manner

I designed this MS healing plan myself and chose action items that I felt would give me a very high return on investment (ROI). However, many of the above commitments were radical shifts to my life paradigm, I did not always embrace this change, nor was it easy for me.

As I learned through this process, rebuilding one’s health is one of the greatest challenges life presents. If you make such a choice, be forewarned that it could be very unpleasant and that you may find yourself resisting the very change you seek. This is because rebuilding health means interrupting old habits and patterns. You may not want to make the necessary commitments to, and sacrifices for, your health. For example, you might have to give up watching TV everyday in order to walk for an hour. Or, people might be angry with you for protecting your time and setting limits that serve you, not them. These types of challenges await you…along with healing.

Finally, to create the above treatment plan for my MS, I had to slow down enough to listen to myself, to my body and my emotions. I had to figure out what I really wanted, what really served me. Even though the process was unpleasant at times, I reconnected with myself and got to know myself better which became a blessing. Am I done? Not even close. The point of my healing plan is not the plan itself, it is undertaking the process of healing, which for me is the process of listening. This is something I practice every day.

For additional resources on how to deal with an MS diagnosis see: