When Mike Parker was diagnosed with MS, it came as a shock to him. But he’s found strength in knowledge, and after educating himself and connecting with others in the MS community, he’s been able to come to terms with his diagnosis. Now, through his podcast and social media, he shares his advice and experiences with others.
Hello there, my name’s Mike Parker. Just thought I’d share my story with yourselves about my diagnosis with MS. For me, it came as quite a shock.
It all started around 2012 when I started getting numbness in my feet, which I personally ignored. I didn’t think there was much of it. Eventually, I went to a doctor and was given some tablets for an infection. It wasn’t an infection. It carried on for many, many years.
Over time, it worked its way up my legs. That numbness never really went away; it sort of came and it went, it came and it went. And over time, that then worked its way up to around my chest area, which I now know to be the MS hug. The problem with that, that’s what made me then think about going to my GP [general practitioner] and asking some questions, because it was a bit frightening.
At the time I didn’t know what it was. And I was thinking to myself, “Actually, I’m frightened.” So I went, had an MRI scan, which I had to overcome a fear of closed scanners.
When that scan was done and the results come back, my doctor actually sat me down. I jokingly walked in on the day that I was with the doctor and said, “This is where you tell me there’s no problem.” And he said to me, he said, “Sit down, Mr. Parker.” He sat me down, and he told me about expecting a diagnosis of MS.
Now, I’m quite open. When I come out of that doctor’s office, I got incredibly upset. I rang my partner crying and whatever else. I didn’t know much about the condition at all. Over time, I learned; I did some research, and I made connections on social media with other MSers worldwide, who were incredible. I learned an awful lot about the condition. And it was around that sort of point I made a bit of a pact with myself to be as open as I possibly can about my life with MS.
Now, when I say being open, I mean I’m talking about it on a regular basis with people, and it sort of started a bit of a fire in my belly, whereby for me personally, I wanted to start learning new things for myself. I wanted to start to learn how I can live my life alongside MS.
And I started doing new things. I started podcasting, I started social media. And I’ve also started doing things like gardening, which actually not just helps the physical aspect, it also helps mentally; it helps keep me calm, it helps make me feel relaxed and it makes me feel as though actually I’m achieving something.
And my advice, as evil as the condition is, if you’re in a position to find new things to do, to keep yourself going, to keep yourself able to smile, do so. There’s lots of things out there that you can do. One saying that gets used quite a lot is a saying I would strongly recommend, and that is, “I’ve got MS; MS hasn’t got me.” That’s what I would suggest.
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