Cynthia shares her story of trying to keep a positive attitude and how her support team at The Elliot Lewis Center helps her physical and mental health.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985 at the age of 25. Of course, I was terrified, but I have to say – the next 20 years weren’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong. I had exacerbations that were not easy to deal with, but they always went away. I truly thought, “I can handle this.”
Fast forward to the present. I use some sort of ambulatory device to move more than 10 feet. I am not able to get into bed, the shower, or the car, without assistance. I am not able to prepare meals without assistance. I must rely on someone to drive me wherever I want to or need to go. Understand – on an emotionally “good day,” I know things could be so much worse but that does not negate the fact that I am sick of being sick! My once strong attitude of “not letting MS take over who I am” is gone, and I am left with a feeling of worthlessness. What do I bring to the table? MS has taken “me” away from me, and I don’t know how to get her back.
I am lucky to have an amazing support team! Those who love and support me tell me that I bring “me” to the table. They say I am kind, caring, sincere, and nonjudgmental – the list goes on, and I appreciate their kindness. What I still want to bring to the table are the little acts of kindness and love that I showed in the past. To make my husband his favorite dessert, “just because.” To have a hot cup of coffee ready for him when he gets in from shoveling snow. These are some of the things I miss when I look back at my healthy self.
I began seeing Dr. Katz at ELC in September after moving to Massachusetts. I couldn’t have been blessed with a more caring and compassionate doctor and clinic. After my first visit, my family and I were convinced we had made the right choice. Dr. Katz immediately prescribed physical and occupational therapy. Although the process is slow (like any good thing), I am getting stronger and more independent. I am now able to walk 150 feet using a walker. I now can stand independently for 2 minutes, which is long enough to get my pants on without assistance. I am learning strategies to control my shaky hands so that tasks like handwriting are more manageable. We are in the process of ordering a custom motorized wheelchair, which will make it easier to move around the kitchen and complete tasks on my own.
Not only does Dr. Katz work on making your “physical self” stronger, but also, every effort is made to ensure strong mental health as well. I am looking forward to a time, soon, when I see myself once again as a strong woman who can handle living with MS.