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Multiple Sclerosis: Challenging, Not Devastating

Updated on May 8, 2012

Fourteen years ago when diagnosed, I was having vague, on and off symptoms, i.e., tingling in my lower extremities, frequent stumbling and tripping, going to the bathroom more than usual with a sense of urgency, and intense burning sensations on both thighs.
My leg muscles seemed to be weakening, they felt unusually heavy and my gait was a bit off, causing me to stagger. There was also some spasticity present. As time went on, my symptoms were becoming not only annoying, but persistent as well, which finally led me to a neurologist. Months of testing ensued and a diagnosis of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis was handed to me, confirmed by more than one neurologist. My earlier symptoms persist today, but are more pronounced making it impossible to hide my struggles with walking.


About a year after being diagnosed, I tripped and broke my ankle. After weeks of healing and more weeks of physical therapy, I began using a cane. Today I am able to walk about 15 ft. without assistance. But doing so causes crushing fatigue and discomfort below the waist, making unaided walking extremely difficult and unsafe. In the ensuing years, my symptoms steadily worsened making the use of a cane, walker and scooter a permanent necessity. I use my cane and/or walker around the house and my scooter when out of the house.

Other assistive devices I use are: 1) grab bar outside the shower stall; 2) shower seat with handles and backrest; 3) toilet rail, which helps me to stand and be seated with greater ease; 4) stand-up assistant device, for chairs/sofas with no armrests, or armrests that are too low and far apart. (Watch YouTube video- Stand Up Assistant2.wmv. This device makes standing a breeze); 5) stairlift, which allows me to ascend and descend home stairs; 6) hand controls will be installed in my next car, coming soon.


For exercise, I have a rebounder for bouncing. It has a stablelizing bar that I hold on to for stability and help with getting on and off. Rebounding is an activity that consists of bouncing and/or jumping that everybody can do, regardless of age or physical condition. And my favorite activity is therapeutic horseback riding, which I do 2x/week. My riding instructor and her volunteer assistants have outstanding horse and people skills. I cannot praise them highly enough for the wonderful service they provide to disabled kids and adults.

Many individuals with MS, myself included, experience some cognitive deficits. Mine include occasional forgetfulness, and at times, finding the right word when expressing thoughts. And, there are the emotional aspects that surface from time to time, i.e., sadness, frequent frustration, and occasional low energy and motivation. These mood states tend to come and go and usually don’t last very long. In the end, I believe happiness is a choice; if you act happy, you’ll feel happy, a technique Dr. Laura advocates. Also, being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections, which is what my therapist taught me a few years ago. Finally, interactions with family and friends, reading, keeping up with national and world events, listening to music, watching movies, and therapeutic horseback riding add greatly to my overall well-being.


The rest of my story would be incomplete without mention of my wonderful husband Donn and our terrific teenage son Steven. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their willingness to be of help, i.e., the countless times they have come to my aid and for the constant patience and understanding both have given me under difficult circumstances at times.


In a nutshell, the adjustments to having MS have been challenging, but so far, not devastating. I do not believe, that because of it, I am ruined or destroyed, as implied by the word *devastating* that is so often associated with MS. However, I am resolved that my life is permanently changed, and that attitude is everything in making peace. The inspirational evangelical pastor and author Charles Swindoll says the following:


“The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day…. we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”


Along the way I have learned that MS can be successfully managed, and that, in spite of having MS, I am basically the same person on the inside that I’ve always been. I try to remember to count my blessings daily, not my troubles. I hope sharing my personal experience with MS has been helpful to others in some small way, whatever the life-altering circumstance may be.

Final Thought: “Whatever happens, dust yourself off, adjust to the new realities of your life, and carry on. Whenever possible do this with a smile.”*Enjoying The Ride* Blogger, Mitch

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    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      A truly inspirational story. Keep up the good work and keep writing on hubpages. I'll follow you along. Thanks for SHARING.

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thank you for stopping by, Sandra. Your comments mean a lot to me!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

      I had a friend who also had multiple sclerosis and, even during the worst of times, she always faced everything bravely and with the same positive attitude that you seem to have. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story.

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Georgie, wishing you and your friend all the very best! And thank you for stopping by.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Patriette - This is a wonderful, courageous and meaningful Hub. Thank you for sharing your story, struggles, and hopeful attitude with us. Not only are your son and husband remarkable people, you are as well.

      I stumbled across your comment on another Hub and felt inclined to check out your home page. First, welcome to HubPages. I am glad you are here. :) You write very well and I hope you will be writing more as your energy permits.

      I had a major stroke seven years ago and spent a year in a wheelchair before I could return to teaching. I still struggle with some some small deficits and use a cane, but I do not have nearly the difficulties to deal with that you do.

      I really think God led me to your hub because I have a daughter-in-law with MS She is not nearly as advanced as you are, but her inability to rest in faith and hope makes it very hard on her emotionally. She is overwhelmed by the losses and diminishment and has a very hard time seeing the good that remains and embracing hope.

      Sorry, this is such a long comment, but actually, I am just long-winded by nature. If there is anything I can do to help you get established on and navigate HP, please let me know.

      There are lots of tutorials and Hubs with terrific advice and suggestions that can be helpful (although a lot of them focus on how to earn money). I find that there are two main ways to approach HP...to make money which means learning about all kinds of technical stuff, SEO, RSS feeds, joining other groups...all that stuff takes the joy out of writing for me, so I don't do any of it and never will.

      The other approach, thankfully embraced by quite a few people (some rare individuals seem to be able to do both, but I can't, I have a day job that pays the bills and keeps e pretty busy) is to focus on writing whatever interests us and reading and commenting on whatever appeals to us.

      That is what I do and it has been a pleasure and encouragement to slowly make friends with some good writers and great people all over the world through HubPages. :) Again, WELCOME. Theresa

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for sharing your story. I know it will be inspirational to many. You are a beautiful lady!

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Theresa,  my heart is breaking for your DIL right now, but at the same time, I'm feeling hopeful for her. The thing about MS is the 'silver lining' that greets us when least expected. For example, you found hope and encouragement in thus Hub and can now pay it forward to your DIL. Not only that, she has a friend in me if she wants it, as I would like nothing more than to have a buddy like her for supportive exchanges. As for you Theresa, I'm touched by your story as well, and I am pleased to hear of your recovery, albeit partial. You and I have been handed a fate we never would have imagined for ourselves, but now that we are in the throes of unexpected circumstances, our only choice is to remember this quote: "Whatever happens, dust yourself off, adjust to the new realities of your life, and carry on. Whenever possible, do this with a smile." Thank you so much Theresa, for stopping by, taking the time to read my Hub and for leaving a very thoughtful and kind comment.

    • feenix profile image

      feenix 5 years ago

      Hello, Patriette,

      This is a useful, awesome, beautiful, interesting, informative and very inspirational article.

      And I am very grateful to you for sharing it, because what you wrote serves as a powerful reminder that each of us can choose to either live a "good life" or to live a "bad life."

      Additionally, because I suffer some very serious "debilities" -- with mine being mental and emotional in nature -- I really do identify with what you wrote in the title of this post: "Challenging, Not Devastating."

      Using a little old-school lingo, you are a real cool lady. Very cool.

      And by the way, not only are you a very "foxy" woman, your husband and son are a couple of very handsome guys.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I shared this with as many sites as I could get too. Great article.

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      feenix, I believe we all have a unique power and lesson to teach and share with each other that in this life, all of us suffer from something, reminding us that we truly are not alone. Thank you for contributing your unique insight, feenix and for the very kind and supportive comments and compliment.... :-)

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      That's awfully kind of you, Rodric... thanks so much!

    • profile image

      constance 5 years ago

      God bless you and your family. I too have ms and am in the middle of a flare up now. My family is not involved- that is hard' but I just do a day at a time. It really helped reading you article.

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Constance, it's too bad your family is uninvolved; that has to be tough. And I can only imagine how disruptive flare ups must be. I really do hope you're feeling more like your old self again real soon. Glad you found my article helpful and I thank you for your kind thoughts.Take good care, friend.

    • profile image

      Dennis O'Donovan 5 years ago

      Great article and great example for all of us. Thank you.

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks for your feedback, Dennis. So nice of you to stop by.

    • profile image

      Martha Beauchamp 5 years ago

      GREAT article, Lynne. You are a great inspiration to all of us!

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Martha, I really appreciate your taking time out to read my article and for your kind feedback.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My niece has MS, and like you, she is beautiful is so many ways and also like you, she has risen above it and excelled.

      God Bless you, and God Bless your Donn and Steven.

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Many thanks, Willstarr. Best regards and continued perseverance and hope to your niece and to all those she inspires.

    • Anil and Honey profile image

      Anil 4 years ago from Kerala

      Dear patriette, I felt very sorry. I will pray for you. God is an omnipotent he don't leave you. please be happy.

      with

      love

    • Patriette profile image
      Author

      Patriette 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Hi Anil and Honey... I appreciate your kind thoughts and well wishes. Thanks for stopping by.

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