Dragged into my MS diagnosis, but now jumping for a cure: Part 1

MS advocate Mike Parker is diving into raising MS awareness — literally

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by Mike Parker |

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Multiple Sclerosis News Today is chronicling MS advocate and podcaster Mike Parker’s journey leading up to a skydiving jump he’ll be making on Oct. 29 to benefit the MS Society U.K. Learn more about Mike at his website mikesmsjourney.com and click here to donate to his fundraiser.

First in a series.

Just over a year ago, doctors told me I had MS.

It all started back in 2012, when I returned after working away from home and had numbness in my feet. I didn’t think much of it at the time. After a while, I went to the doctor, who prescribed some antibiotics, thinking I had an infection. But the medication didn’t help me, so I went back to ignoring my symptoms.

Over time, the numbness began working its way up my legs. At this point, I was playing 6-on-6 soccer, and I spent most of the time managing my team from the touchlines because I’d repeatedly fall when I tried to run.

Once again, I tried to ignore what was happening and find a way to carry on, but then things reached a point where I had to act: The numbness had worked its way up to my chest. Some nights I’d go to bed and the tightness would scare me into telling my wife that I thought I was having heart issues.

Realizing something wasn’t right, I made an appointment with my doctor, who booked an MRI. Those always scared the life out of me because of the enclosed space. When hospital staff attempted the scan, I had to be pulled out because I was shaking with fear.

They ended up booking me a private MRI in an open scanner, which was so much better for me. When the results came back, the word “demyelination” appeared at the bottom. I had no idea what it meant. The doctor said I needed a second MRI, this time with contrast. Things really came to a head when I completed that scan a couple of months later.

Finally getting answers

On the day of my appointment to discuss the results, I was in a playful mood. As I walked into the doctor’s office, I joked that it was where I’d be told that nothing was wrong with me. Oh, how wrong I was.

The doctor asked me to sit down, and as he talked, I kind of switched off. Everything sounded serious, which started to worry me. I picked up on the odd word. “Demyelination” was used again, but I still had no clue what it meant. After a couple of minutes, the doctor proposed the probability of multiple sclerosis, and I asked if he was diagnosing me.

“At this point, no,” he replied. But he told me to prepare myself for that to be the outcome.

As I walked out of the doctor’s office and into the fresh air, I broke. Tears started to flow and my head felt like it’d exploded. I called my wife, who calmed me down. To confirm the diagnosis, I’d need an MRI of my brain, and for that, I had to overcome my fear of closed scanners.

When the results came back, the diagnosis became official. Yes, I had MS.

Jumping for awareness

Not long after that, I decided to do all I could to get my story out, in the hopes of helping others who may be facing similar circumstances.

Along the way, I’ve received some fantastic support from the MS Society. That brings me to the present day: I’ve decided to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet to raise money for the society. I plan to do it Oct. 29.

MS has taken so much from me in such a short amount of time — work, hobbies, and mobility, to name a few. It feels right for me to do all I can to fight back. This challenge has given me a push by motivating me to go to the gym and get myself into good physical shape so I can handle the jump.

Next week: Mike gets the green light from his doctor. 

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Gary Hendricks avatar

Gary Hendricks


Thank you for sharing. Your post brought back memories from my diagnosis journey.

I remember sitting in the neurologists office when she first mentioned MS. The shock, emotions, and unknowns were overwhelming.

She sent me off to a MS Specialist for more MRI's and a spinal tap before I had my official PPMS diagnosis.

Now, 6 years in, the unknows can still be overwhelming, but drawing upon my faith and maintaining an eternals prospective have helped my in my daily battles.


Andree Jacob avatar

Andree Jacob

Hello Mr. Parker
Sorry to hear about this ugly MS..
Could tell me what type of Ms you have..
Try to keep rocking .
Tks , Andree

Darien Provence avatar

Darien Provence

Greetings! My diagnosis came about 5 years ago. My path to diagnosis was quicker than yours but just as devastating. My numbness started in my left hand and is moving up my arm. I’m doing Ocrevus infusions and that appears to be working. Good Luck on your big jump. Good luck on the Raising Awarness plan as well. Darien

John McCann avatar

John McCann

Hi Mike,
Good look with jump and nice to read about the ignoring symptoms. It was a feature of my journey as well.


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