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  • jennifermerritt1

ME, MYSELF AND MS.

My story of my diagnosis and how I moved from fear to abundance!


Ten years ago, 3 months after our wedding in September 2011, I was devastatingly diagnosed with relapse and remitting Multiple Sclerosis.


I had been unwell for several months after going numb from my waist down three weeks before our wedding day in June. It happened progressively over 24 hours and I was scared and worried as the sensation climbed up my body that I could die. I put it down to excitement and exhaustion in equal measure - there had been a lot to do!


After the wedding and honeymoon I continued to battle various and changing symptoms like a mild dropped foot and lhermitte's syndrome. I had lots of useful consultation and advice, "it's probably a trapped nerve”, “it is possible this is the result of lymes disease” and I was also prepared for the worst with both MS and brain tumour signposted as needing to be ruled out.

I was booked in and had two MRI scans within a few days of each other. The second was on the Friday and my consultant called me the following Monday at work to book an appointment to discuss the findings. For those of you with experience of the UK NHS you will know this is a fast response to a scan, and therefore my anxiety spiked. I knew I could not wait three days without driving myself insane waiting to find out what was wrong with me.


So, in the dark and isolated back stairwell of the old Bank Of England building in Bristol, after I pressed her to break protocol, my consultant explained I had a lesion on my spine indicative of MS. I can't tell you today how the conversation transpired - my ears were engulfed by the animalistic cries that I was making, and I lost time for a while.


This felt like grief. Grief for the life I believed was now not wholly mine, one I would have to experience from a wheelchair, watching my body waste, unable to achieve what I wanted until I eventually exited stage left at a far too early age. You could argue this seems like a huge and desolate leap from initial diagnosis, however this was my stark and real experience of MS.

My wonderful and loving Grandmother Margaret who meant the absolute world to me passed away in 1993. She was 49 - too young. I was only 7 at the time but I had a very close relationship with my Grandma and Grandad who had had a lead role in my early years so I was very aware of my pain and it stays with me as a very vivid memory to this day.


Hopefully you can start to understand how my diagnosis of MS was such a devastating and difficult time in my life. The fear, grief & anger were quickly followed up with depression, guilt and feelings of failure.


This was the start of my journey and I can tell you it was a very challenging few months (I will share more with you in subsequent editions) but today, I want to tell you the key turning point for me - one which has helped me never look back.


It was January 2012, I was sitting at home alone, staring at the walls in silence, wallowing, again, when something happened that changed me, changed everything. I can only describe it as a very calm and surreal moment of clarity. I was in the eye of the storm and realised in that moment I was choosing not to live my life. I realised I was not being stopped or held back by anything in that moment, only my fears. It didn't last very long but the awareness was intense and I had what felt like a huge sugar crash. I felt weak, I was trembling and nauseous.


From here on I chose to start living each day like it counted, because illness or not every day does count. I started walking around the block, seeing a therapist, enrolled in oxygen therapy, quit smoking, lost some weight after all my comfort eating, ran a 10k, ran 10 miles, a half marathon or two then a couple of London Marathons, raised over £13k in two years for charity, continued to make changes to my diet, meditation, yoga, breathwork and set myself some career goals to smash - I had unlocked my life in that one moment.


There is no magic formula for how I have remained so healthy to date against MS but I strongly believe my self care habits and regimes have contributed to this.


One thing I will leave you with is this; whatever adversity you are facing in life, even if you are losing a health battle like my beautiful Gran all those years ago, don't stop smiling, laughing and enjoying life, the air in your lungs and the love in your heart, of which my Gran had so much.


A powerful inspiration to us all to make each and every day count.


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1 Comment


Angela Watkins
Angela Watkins
Sep 17, 2021

Wow! I'm in tears... Your voice can be heard, strong true and clear through your writing. Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing. You are amazing. You truly are uplifting and inspirational - today I wear an extra big smile of appreciation to the world because of your message:


"whatever adversity you are facing in life, even if you are losing a health battle like my beautiful Gran all those years ago, don't stop smiling, laughing and enjoying life, the air in your lungs and the love in your heart, of which my Gran had so much.


A powerful inspiration to us all to make each and every day count."


Thank you so much,

Angela x

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