31 Days of MS: My RRMS diagnosis forced me to truly look at myself

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A closeup shows a white woman with long, blond hair, blue eyes, a white blouse, and white and black decorative earrings sitting on a couch in front of a white, wooden wall. She stares intensely and inquisitively into the camera and wears an expression with a slight smile.

Photo courtesy of Kerry Walkins

Day 13 of 31

This is Kerry Walkins‘ story:

At 36, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Looking back now, I realize I had symptoms for a few years before that.

In early 2021, I began to notice odd sensations in my legs that I couldn’t quite describe. I was also struggling with extreme fatigue that I chalked up to being a tired mother of three young kids. Then, on March 2 of that year, a few weeks after a big fall, I woke to an intense case of vertigo, balance issues, and what I now know was Lhermitte’s sign. I saw three doctors and a physiotherapist, and after eight months of waiting, I finally got an MRI.

On Dec. 8, 2021, I found myself in the neurologist’s office, and that was when he diagnosed me with MS. I took the time I needed to grieve my diagnosis, and when I came to accept it, I knew I couldn’t continue to sit around and feel sorry for myself. I decided I needed to change how I was living my life.

Though MS can be unpredictable, and we all experience it differently, I knew that I needed to control everything I could and really start to listen to my body and understand what it needed.

I started doing exercises I could handle and that made me feel good. Next, I took the time to look at my diet and really pay attention to how my body felt after I ate. I eliminated foods that didn’t make me feel great, and slowly, but surely, I felt things change.

I discovered that these lifestyle changes, coupled with my disease-modifying therapy, made me feel like a new person. I had energy and focus again, I was sleeping better, my moods were steady, and the tingling in my legs was gone.

These days, I have learned to love myself again, which I attribute to the diagnosis that forced me to stop and truly look at myself. I work out regularly and even went back to work doing something I enjoy.

Although MS isn’t a welcome diagnosis for anyone, today I am thankful for mine, and for how it’s pushed me to live more intentionally and to love myself again. I won’t take any of my good days for granted, because none of us know what tomorrow will bring.

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.