How I kept going after a discouraging diagnosis of MS

Remaining active and setting goals have helped me stay positive

Mike Parker avatar

by Mike Parker |

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Let me introduce myself: I’m Mike, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to share my story.

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in August 2022. Since then, a lot has changed, including the loss of a 20-year career, worsening mobility problems, and the start of a new treatment, to name a few. Through it all, new horizons have appeared for me, including making fantastic friends and learning novel ways to stay positive.

In this column, I’ll touch on some of the things that help me be the person I want to be.

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Fighting the negativity

An earlier series I wrote about jumping from an airplane offers clues to how I keep moving forward, despite my MS challenges. I find that having something challenging to look forward to is a way to fight the negativity MS can cause. The skydiving trip was an opportunity to try something new while raising money for the battle against MS.

I am very passionate about fundraising for MS charities. Since my diagnosis, I’ve taken part in two 5K walks (or in my case, rolling in a wheelchair) around London, and a 28-day activity challenge in which I motivated myself to be active for at least 28 minutes a day for about a month. And, as I mentioned, I jumped out of a plane. A motivating factor in all of this is to give back to the MS community and help to find that elusive cure.

I also had to find new creative outlets. One of my favorites is gardening, which allows me to be outdoors and create new things. It’s rewarding to see the new shapes and colors of the plants. While the actual work of gardening is physically hard to do, it helps me stay active and is beneficial to my mental health.

Mobility issues have prevented me from doing a lot physically, but I’ve found other things, such as podcasting, being active on social media, writing poetry, and learning to play the guitar.

MS community support

Before I was even diagnosed, a medical professional had recommended that I seek out MS support groups online. At that point, I knew very little about the condition, so the advice and insight I gleaned were gratefully accepted.

Later, I joined social media to get my story out publicly with the hope that it would be useful to others. That turned out to be the best decision I’ve made. Not only was it helpful to others, but also to myself.

The compassion, empathy, and care I’ve found in the online MS community is incredible. Talking to people around the world seems no different than conversing with a friend I’ve known for years. This support has been instrumental in helping me find ways to cope.

From early on in my health journey, talking openly and honestly has helped me understand this new chapter of my life and adjust to it.

Three pillars of my outlook now are finding new ways to look at life, thinking about the future, and setting goals.

MS takes a lot from us, but making new friends and creating new hobbies have been a shining light that has illuminated a positive path forward. Yes, I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.


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.

Comments

JEFF GULLANG avatar

JEFF GULLANG

Mike,

Thanks for sharing! Loved seeing fundraising to help find a cure!

Great seeing that you have taken such a positive approach dealing with your diagnosis. You have really taken "when one door closes, another one opens” mentality to heart.

From someone who just “celebrated” my twenty years dx you need to stay positive, open to new perspectives and challenges, and focus on family and friends to get through these years.

Good luck with the rest of the year and look forward to reading your other posts.

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Kim A. avatar

Kim A.

Sorry to have to welcome you to the MS club but I’m inspired by your attitude! I believe keeping that is half the battle won,I’ve tried to keep that positive attitude for the 20 years I’ve been living with it. I was lucky enough to finish my career after 37 years & retire 2 years ago, now having time to learn new things & volunteer my time!(they’re all good enough to put up with my mobility issues & fatigue)
Keep calm & carry on, son. I know you can do it!

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Chris Jackson-Smith avatar

Chris Jackson-Smith

Thank you for sharing your story Mike, your positivity and down to earth attitude is a breath of fresh air. I am an MS veteran of 39 years, yes 39 years!! And I'm proud to echo your mantra - I have MS, it doesn't have me! I look forward to hearing from you in future and wish you well 😊

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