31 Days of MS: You are deserving of everything good
Day 18 of 31
This is Jarika Winfield’s story:
My name is Jarika and I’m a 35-year-old queer, two-spirit person. My ethnic backgrounds are Metis and Ukrainian. I live in the unceded territory of the the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people (aka Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).
In November 2016, I woke up with a little gray spot interfering with my vision in my left eye. I tried to blink it away. Assuming I was just overtired, I went to work. The next day the spot had taken over more of my eye and was darker. I was officially freaked out.
I’m lucky the walk-in doctor suspected it was optic neuritis and sent me to the optometrist, who sent me to the ophthalmologist. Eight months later, I was told that my scans showed lesions in my brain and spinal cord. I have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
At first, I felt terrified about my future. But when I met my current neurologist, he looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and set me up with all the specialists I needed. He treats me like family.
MS drastically changed my life. I had just turned 30 and was in my prime. MS took that away from me so quickly. I went from walking with no aids to using a walker in less than five years. I have to listen to my body when it tells me it’s too tired to go out, to shower most days, to cook a decent meal, to maintain relationships like I used to.
I grieve the loss of my physical strength and stamina. Working in the hospitality industry used to be my life, but those overtime shifts became impossible. Missing work added stress to surviving in one of Canada’s most expensive cities, and I’m trying to navigate a government disability system that feels like it’s designed to make you want to give up on seeking support. I’m grateful I can voice my concerns, but it makes me feel more frustrated for the people who can’t. We all deserve more compassion. We shouldn’t have to scream to be heard.
I urge everyone to fully embrace every opportunity they can while they can. Be good to yourself, mind and body. To my disabled community, treat yourself well. You are so deserving of everything good.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for MS Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.