Name: MS Warrior Sarah from Michigan
When were you diagnosed with MS and what was the first thing you did after you found out?
I was first diagnosed last September of 2020. I went into the ER after 3 days of numbness from my ribs down to my left foot. I was in denial and thought that I had a pinched nerve. It was my first week of remote teaching and with my own kid's busy schedule, I was trying to wait until I could see a chiropractor. I actually drove myself to the ER that day thinking I would be done in a few hours and they would reassure me that an adjustment would fix the problem. I ended up staying a week, due to problems from my spinal tap. And left with my diagnosis and an appointment with a neurologist in a MS clinic in Owosso.
The first thing I did was not research on my own. I am deeply affected by negative energy and sometimes with initial research that is all you find. So I reached out my husband's aunt who has been a MS Warrior for 15 years. She directed me to research that was full of resources and positive outcomes. I also took time to grieve. I had to grieve the loss of my life before MS and then move on through educating myself.
What is something good that came out of your MS diagnosis?
More good then I imagined came out of my diagnosis. I have always had extremely high expectations for myself as a mom and teacher, quick to beat myself down. My diagnosis has forced me to give myself grace and celebrate daily accomplishments. I used to exercise for vein reasons and now I exercise to show my kids that I am strong.
On "bad days" I slow down, try not to sweat the small stuff of household chores, and enjoy games with my kids. In my professional life it has given me perspective. This is the hardest year of my teaching career (without the diagnosis) and I am the least stressed I have ever been. I am passionate about teaching but I will not allow myself to get emotionally stressed over things I cannot control. That stress has caused my symptoms to flair up as a reminder to LET IT GO.
How has MS affected your daily life?
MS affects my daily life in managing stress and physical exertion. I have learned where to direct my worry, only on things that I can control. When I over stress and lose sleep, I quickly lose feeling in my leg. The type of exercise that I do daily is very different than before as well. If I workout too late in the day or too high impact, I struggle to walk and help my kids with bed time.
What is the greatest achievement you have done since being diagnosed and how were you able to achieve it?
My diagnosis is so new, that I am not sure I have a "great" achievement since September. I am however proud that I returned to teaching in the middle of a pandemic with four children. We have bounced between face to face learning and remote smoothly. The last 2 months I have taught from home with my 3 school age children home learning from devices during the day with me. It has been a lot to juggle but we have enjoyed the extra moments together.
What advice would you give to someone just finding out they have MS?
Grieve. Research. Regain control over your life. That in the cloud of such a heavy diagnosis, life will keep moving along. You will come out of that cloud with a new sense of self worth and outlook on life.
Any other thoughts you would like to share?
I do not have a community of MS support in person, so there is so much value in digital support groups.
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