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How a diagnosis with MS has changed my life

Written by Kristy Draper

Ten years ago, at the age of 26, I thought I knew exactly where my life was heading. I’d finally started a job I loved; had a great group of friends and had begun travelling overseas. So when I woke up after one of our usual ‘standard’ days at the Spring Racing Carnival with a severe case of pins and needles in my right hand I thought nothing of it.

A month later, however, that feeling had spread all the way up my arm, throughout my entire body and down into my left hand. I was struggling to type or write at work, do up my own clothing and (horror of all horrors) I couldn’t even put my make up on! I went to the hospital expecting them to do an X-ray but instead they very quickly told me it looked like MS.

I was shattered. I just couldn’t understand why this was happening to me? I had always thought of myself as someone who was relatively fit and healthy plus no one in my family had anything like this. What I knew of MS was limited and I immediately assumed it meant I would end up in a wheelchair.

Suddenly the picture I had in my head of my life disappeared and was instead replaced with a big black question mark.

For myself and the 23,000 other Australians living with MS this is the challenge – not knowing what may happen or how it will affect your body. The doctors cannot answer that question and, try as they may, nor can your family and friends. It can be extremely isolating.

Over the past 10 years I have been fortunate enough to only have 2 major relapses.

Slowly I have learnt to live with this invisible illness and the lesions which are permanent help me to read my body and know when to slow down. If I push too hard, party too hard, become stressed at work or let myself get tired my hands start going numb again. So I stop. At times it is still very frustrating and I have days where I struggle to remain positive.

With the help of my awesome family and friends I am probably the strongest and healthiest I have ever been in my life right now.

To celebrate this Michael and I are going to be running the 21km rock n roll half marathon in Vegas next month. Starting with a running style which, according to the girls, more closely resembled a cross between a new born foal and drunk person, Michael has had to be very patient over the last 8 months teaching me how to run properly and learning to enjoy it – this is still a work in progress!

We are raising funds for Kiss Goodbye to MS as part of the run. Kiss Goodbye to MS raises money purely for research into MS and hopefully one day a cure for the disease.

By supporting my fundraising effort, you are not only helping us to get across the finish line in Vegas but you are, more importantly, helping to provide hope to myself and others with the disease that one day soon the question mark we live with every day will have a positive answer and MS will disappear for good. If you would like to donate you can do so here.