An MS diagnosis left Phil, 33, feeling ‘stunned and scared’, but writing about some of the emotions he experienced in a poem helped him come to terms with the diagnosis. Read Phil's story and poem below.
Stunned and scared, I think these words best sum up how I felt when I was diagnosed with clinically isolated syndrome in February 2017. I felt fit and healthy and was enjoying being dad to my 6-month-old daughter. I couldn’t believe that my symptoms meant I was likely go on to have multiple sclerosis. I had experienced temporary numbness and the loss of feeling in my leg, and an MRI scan revealed I had multiple lesions on my spine and brain. Then, five months later, after suffering with fuzzy eyes, doctors found a new lesion on my brain and I was officially diagnosed with MS.
Having MS is scary and I don’t understand stories I've read about people who say that being diagnosed is a good thing, but I really do believe that it has made me enjoy and feel lucky on so many brilliant occasions during the last few months. I cannot pretend that I do this very well yet, but I believe I’m better than before my diagnosis.
"I found writing poetry quite a cathartic way to help come to terms with how I felt about being diagnosed"
In the last 11 months I’m proud that I’ve reduced my working hours to four days per week to look after my daughter on Mondays, which is fantastic! And I have nearly completed a ‘12 months, 12 sports’ challenge where I’ve watched a different live sport with friends and family every month since last July. This has seen me watch everything from ice hockey to rugby and athletics to motor sports, and I’ve had great fun doing so. My next challenge is to get back into running after having issues with my hip. I had entered this year’s London Marathon but had to pull out due to injury, so I’m determined to run a half marathon by the end of this year and hope to enter the marathon again in 2019 to help raise money for the MS Trust.
I wrote a poem about one month after being diagnosed with MS, I found it quite a cathartic way to help come to terms with how I felt about being diagnosed. Being honest, this was my poem, and until very recently I had only shared it with my wife. However, I found reading the Your Story section of the MS Trust website so incredibly useful to me, that I felt I should share my poem as well in the hope that even one other person who is going through the tough experience of being told they have multiple sclerosis, would find it useful.
Diagnosed with MS
It’s not a death sentence,
Nor a cruel messed up joke,
Look me straight in the eye,
You'll see the same old bloke,
I’ve been diagnosed with MS,
But it's not black and white,
My symptoms are so far mild,
numbness in my leg was so slight,
Sure, my eye sight went fuzzy,
I couldn’t feel the cold or heat,
But I had no pain,
No issue walking with both feet,
The prognosis is terrifying,
The future so unsure,
I'm not worried about doing less,
I'm certain I will do more,
Yes, I no longer feel invincible,
No, I'm not a deluded fool,
So I've dreamt a bucket list of wishes,
I will complete them all,
I will gaze at Mount Everest,
Watch a Japanese Geisha smile,
Teach my daughter to ride a bike,
And walk her down the aisle,
Run the London Marathon,
Cheer on a British Lions tour,
Witness an overseas Olympics,
Continue to learn and explore,
I will enjoy and succeed at work,
Improve my surfing skill,
Take my family to Disneyland,
Prove I have an iron will,
So if I trip, understand and take the mickey,
If I'm fatigued, knowingly beam that I'm a mope,
Because I'm positive and determined,
I'm overflowing with hope,
I'm told I'm always positive,
And why shouldn't I be,
I have the worlds best wife and daughter,
And such a loving family,
I believe I can, so I will,
There will be doubt I shall suppress,
But listen to me when I say,
Its not end end, its MS.
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