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 experienced 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 was single. Yet, I broke 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 me having a debilitating disease. All the while, I continued to exercise. All of 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.
My wonderful husband 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 an awesome and active life. So much so that in the last nine months, I’ve made two trips to France which has been my life-long dream. Though I have a disease which 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.
I travel on my road with its unexpected detours, twists and turns. Each day I try to find some joy in the journey no matter where the road takes me. I hope and pray that whatever you’re suffering that God will grant you His peace and joy as you journey through life.