A Letter to Myself: One I Wish I Received Before My Relapsing MS Diagnosis By Donnie, Father, Husband, Project Leader, Former Athlete • October 15, 2018
If the postal service ever offers a time-travel delivery option, I’d write a letter to my younger self before I was diagnosed with relapsing MS. It would probably go something like this:
Hey, listen, I have a lot to tell you and it’s important stuff (no, it doesn’t include if Kentucky makes any bowl games).
I’m really proud of all that you have going on and of the man that you’ve become. You have a beautiful wife and two beautiful young daughters. You have a great job where you started at the bottom and worked your way into a management position. It is the beginning of a new millennium and life is good, right?
As wonderful as that sounds, life has a way of taking twists and turns and I have to tell you there is a rough patch of road ahead. You are about to be dealt a blow that you could not have seen coming. Brace yourself. In the near future you will be diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis. At first there will be the shock of the diagnosis. But after that wears off you’re going to start the sometimes hard work of figuring out how to get back to feeling like yourself. To not only learn how to live with relapsing MS but how to thrive in spite of it.
The first bit of advice I will give you is have no fear. I know that’s not easy. There will be times when you’re scared. You may come to doubt what kind of future you are going to have. But do not let this prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Enjoy every moment, Donnie. Life only happens once, so do not let the fear of the unknown get in the way. There is only so much you can control. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on what really matters.
Yes, your life is going to be impacted and things are going to change. You’re going to have to give up some things—like playing sports. This is going to be a hard pill to swallow. But you will adjust to this new chapter. In fact, your competitive spirit will help you deal with your diagnosis and inspire you to take action against RMS. The character you develop and the determination to never give up will drive you forward. You are going to learn that you are much stronger internally than you ever imagined.
I am sure you have questions about your family. How is your wife going to deal with the changes in your life? This will be your biggest concern. Melissa is already your world, but she is going to be instrumental after your diagnosis. Her patience, strength, love, and support will be so important when it comes to managing your relapsing MS. You will find out that this woman is tougher and has more energy than anyone you will ever know. She will be there to cry with you, give you a swift kick in the butt when you need it, and always put your needs ahead of hers. No matter what you may face, Melissa’s love is unconditional and never ending.
Finding the right treatment for you will also be a bumpy road, but you’ll get there. You will find a neurologist who you can be open and honest with. You’ll also try a few disease-modifying therapies, but stop them all for one reason or another. So then you and your neurologist will lay out a new plan, which will lead you to LEMTRADA.
Relapsing MS will change you in ways that you could never imagine. It will make you ask the question “Why me?” But that’s when you will reach deep down inside and tell yourself “I’m not going to quit.” And let me tell you, you don’t quit! You don’t let relapsing MS dictate your happiness or control your life.
There will be hard times, but there will be more positives than negatives. You will learn that you have an inner strength that cannot be measured. Melissa will show you what true love is all about. And you will share your honest and emotional insights with others who may also struggle to see that life is good. But believe me … you will find that it is.
- LIVING WITH RELAPSING MS
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Attend a live event or watch one online to learn more about LEMTRADA.
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