Over on my Instagram account @manchesterspirit I have been doing the #AtoZofMS, posting a letter on each day of July, well, with some exceptions because it is me and I am forgetful!
The aim of this was to create a comprehensive guide to MS, from the view point of helping someone who has just been diagnosed. I have tried to condense the things that I have learnt on my very short journey that could help others and start a discussion about the things I have hardest and things that have really helped me through.
So here is my summary of the first part of the MS Alphabet:
A is for Awareness
It wasn’t until I had to start telling people that I had MS that I realised no one really understands what it is. As soon as you say Cancer, people know but MS just got me a funny look or comments asking when I would be getting a wheelchair. There is no awareness out there. Every reference in films and TV are the worst case scenarios, not what most people are living with. I hope this #26daychallenge helps to raise some awareness.
B is for Books
The thing with a chronic illness is that it is constantly in your mind, all the time!! So I like to get out of my own head by reading, delving into another world, even if it is only for an hour or two!
C is for Copaxone
Copaxone is my medication of choice. Self injections 3 times a week. The thing I find hardest is that there seems to be no pattern. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it bleeds a lot, sometimes there is swelling, sometimes you can’t even find the pin prick!! 🙈 but it is keeping me symptom free so it must be working.
D is for Diet
So the doctor said when I was diagnosed that I should adopt the Mediterranean Diet to keep healthy, but most importantly keep salt to a minimum and no red meat. After a big of research about inflammation, I decided to become gluten and dairy free too. In for a penny… right?! I am healthy, I am cooking and I am a stone lighter! A massive change but all for the better! Please note: This is not medical advise! Just what I do. Please talk to your doctor first before dramatically changing your diet!!!!
E is for Exercise
Everyone says that MS warriors should exercise, but overdoing it causes all sorts of numbness and fatigue. I really struggle to find the balance. I do an active job and walk to and from work but I am sure that is all I can manage at the moment.
F is for Friends and Family
I would not have adjusted to my new life half as well if it hadn’t been for my amazing friends and family. I will be eternally grateful to them and know they will support me for the rest of my journey. Love you all xxxxxxxxx
G is for Gender
Women are three times more likely to develop MS than men are. Like women don’t have enough to deal with?! Like periods! Which make the MS symptoms worse because your body is a couple of degrees hotter at that time of the month. Oh joy. 🙈🙈
H is for Headspace
For me, the mental challenges of MS are way more difficult to deal with than the physical ones. The ‘What Ifs?’ Or the ‘I can’t be arsed today’ feelings are just the worst. But we all know keeping positive is the way to keep healthy, some days it just takes a little more effort than others!!
I is for I Love Me!
It has only taken me 28 years but through MS, I have finally learnt to look after myself! I now actually think about what is best for me and my health whenever there are extra shifts being handed out at work or when that friend calls who only ever talks to you when they need a favour…we all have one of those friends… I take time out of the week to do something calming like having a bath or reading a book. I think about the food I am putting into my body. All good things 🧡🧡
J is for Juggling Act
I feel like I am forever juggling, remembering hospital appointments, when to take meds, while making sure I am not eating too much of the bad stuff, while trying to keep my life in order! Argh!!!!! 🙈🙈🙈😂😂😂
K is for Knowledge
There is so much information out there on the Internet about MS, but you need to decide if it helpful to read it or not. Sometimes knowledge is power, but every case of MS is so different so reading about other people’s stories may not be helpful to you. You need to learn about your own symptoms with your doctor, rather than working through it with Google!
L is for Learning To Cook
Changing my diet meant learning to cook, a very big positive that has come out of this debacle!
M is for Manchester Spirit
Manchester went through a horrific ordeal last May, where the unspeakable happened and children lost their lives. The city pulled together in times of terror and forged stronger bonds than ever. I have taken strength from this example for my own battle, hence the name of my blog Manchester Spirit.
Stay tuned for the rest of the A to Z of MS, which I will post when July is over and all the posts have gone on Instagram. Follow my account @manchesterspirit to catch them all!