31 Days of MS: Having MS Has Made Me a Better OT
Day 26 of 31
This is Stephanie Singleton’s story:
I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in August 2014 after going to the hospital for new-onset double vision. I was not surprised when the emergency room doctor came in to tell me that I had MS. I had been experiencing symptoms of vertigo, numbness, and weakness off and on for more than eight years but nothing had shown up when I had a variety of tests run. I subsequently was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS.
At the time of my diagnosis, I had been an occupational therapist (OT) for 25 years. During that time, I worked with people living with MS in a variety of settings, including in-patient rehabilitation, out-patient, home health, and an MS clinic. I thought I understood the disease process. I thought I understood fatigue. To give myself credit, I did understand those issues but only from an academic point of view. Now, I truly understand MS, both as a professional and as a person living with MS. I now know what it’s like to live with a chronic progressive illness.
I believe having MS has made me a better OT. I have become even more of an advocate for my clients. I have increased my knowledge about assistive/adaptive equipment and how it can improve a person’s quality of life. There also are times when my being in a wheelchair can be an ice breaker at the initial evaluation. Let’s face it, when you roll in to the treatment session, it can give you some immediate “street credibility”!
In my life now, I choose hope. I choose to be positive about my life and about my “different abilities” brought on because of my MS progression. I take pleasure in the small things, like watching a sunset or a covey of quail walking in my yard. I cherish my close relationships and make sure to let people know what they mean to me. I find something to laugh about every day. I breathe deeply and work on reducing stressors whenever possible. I work to take care of myself both physically and mentally. MS is only a small part of what makes me who I am.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.