I was 23 years old when my life changed but truth be told, I knew at 22 that things were going to be different for me. I started to have MS symptoms in the summer of 2001 and Cory and I had been together for only a short year. I had no idea what was going on and it wasn't until the symptoms became too much to ignore and so odd that I felt like I knew something was really wrong. The second my incredible PC said MS, I knew that's what it was. I knew everything would change and after days, maybe even weeks of feeling so sorry for myself, I got to work on my plan.
I tried to let him go. I tried to end us right away. I knew that he had not signed on for this. I sat him down and told him that I don't know what any of this means for my future, but it's my future and it doesn't have to be his. He could go, I wouldn't tell anyone why. He didn't have to feel guilty or ashamed about any of it. He wanted a family, he wanted normal, and he was the definition of normal and drama free so why take any of this on? But, he wouldn't. He wouldn't even hear me out...he just came to all of my appointments and held my hand through all of the pain.
I didn't want to tell a single person in my family. I didn't have it in me to support them through it, but my sister, I had to tell my sister. I could hear how scared she was, but she came. She drove all the way to Rochester to hold my hand through a spinal tap, she came with me to tell my family, she was there to hear the second opinion. There she was.
I started taking my health so seriously. I stopped eating meat and worked hard on healthy. I started running lots more and found some sort of peace in the long runs. I tried to make sure I was drinking enough water and getting enough sleep and I really struggle with the fatigue that MS causes but...
It's 12 years later and here we stand. And it's been us all along.
Let me be clear, only love will carry you through this time. Only love will allow you to do some of the things we have had to do for each other. Only love will consider what this all means for you and only love will help you.
But, most days, it's not even on our minds. Especially now with all of the advances. Most days.
Some days are hard. Some days the fatigue is too much. Some days I have to remind myself that it's a diagnosis and not a definition, it's not a sentence. Some days I have to tell it to go to hell because it won't win.
And it won't. I'll be here for my kids. I will run in my races. I will have a career that challenges and drains, and I will be alive. I will live our life, I will show them what strength means, I will show them what a strong body can do, what it can mean for you. I will live.
It's been 12 years since everything changed.