“My MS would be a lion; it can be fierce, scary, and at times untamed.” — Calie W.
HealthCentral is pleased to share the stories of community members living with MS in our #RealMSProfiles series. If you are interested in sharing your story, please answer these questions.
HealthCentral: Calie, when were you diagnosed with MS? What led to your diagnosis?
Calie: I was diagnosed in 2004 at the age of 14. Symptoms started with bad circulation in my feet that would turn purple and go numb. It seems like I was always sick or in pain.
HC: How has MS impacted your life?
Calie: At first, MS had a negative impact on my life. I didn’t want my peers or family treating me any differently, so I hid my diagnosis initially. It wasn’t until almost 2 years ago, when my son was born, that I opened up and started to tell people I have MS. Now, I can clearly see how MS has helped to transform me into the woman I am today. Without everything I have gone through, I wouldn’t be the strong and healthy woman I am now.
HC: Have you made any conscious lifestyle changes due to MS? If so, has it affected your quality of life? __ Calie:__ After the birth of my son in 2015, I consciously made the decision to focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I began eating clean and exercising more regularly. Taking control of my health has completely changed my life in a positive way!
HC: What are your greatest fears with MS?
Calie: My two greatest fears regarding MS are disease progression and potentially passing it on to my son and/or future children. I currently have relapsing-remitting MS and am blessed to say that it has not progressed since I was diagnosed 13 years ago. I feel I owe a lot of that to my doctors and specialists for being proactive in my diagnosis at such a young age.
HC: What are your greatest joys with MS?
Calie: My greatest joy with MS is being able to share my struggles, trials, and triumphs with the online MS community through articles published at Multiplesclerosis.net. Being open and honest about my diagnosis and how MS has changed my life has lifted a tremendous weight off my shoulders.
HC: If your MS were an animal, what would it be and why?
Calie: My MS would be a lion; it can be fierce, scary, and at times untamed. However, a lion can also demonstrate great strength and beauty. I know that when others look at me, they may focus on what they see on the surface. They may not recognize what I go through, because thankfully I don’t have many visible symptoms. But underneath the surface, my MS can be scary and bite at any given time.
HC: What words of advice do you have for others in managing day-to-day life with MS?
Calie: Take care of yourself. I know that is so much easier said than done, but taking care of your body and giving yourself the time to rest is very important. That is something I wish I would have realized much earlier in my diagnosis.
HC: What words of advice do you have for others in managing the future with MS?
Calie: I encourage that we raise awareness and keep others informed as to what MS is, including its different forms and symptoms. It is important that others realize what we go through and know that each of us can be affected in different ways.
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.