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How I learnt to accept the 'different' me

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Patricia Gachagan

Patricia Gachagan was diagnosed with MS 11 years ago, shortly after the birth of her son Elliot. Here she talks about coming to terms with the diagnosis, accepting that it’s ok to be different and why she was inspired to write about her journey with MS.

I was diagnosed with MS 11 years ago after giving birth to my wonderful son, Elliot. I went from a travelling, adventurous school teacher and keep-fit fanatic to a new mum struggling to walk and look after her newborn son independently literally overnight! Shock and panic led my journey initially. When my multiple sclerosis diagnosis arrived nine months later we were gripped with fear as to how we would cope with family life and working life at the same time as my declining health.

It took time, commitment, resilience and absolute determination, but I have created my MS jigsaw (see below) and built it up over the last decade with all the things I have tried and all the things I have done to manage my MS so that I can still have a fulfilled, enriched and even fun family life! There are good days and not so good days, but they are all part of my journey and my MS jigsaw has something to comfort and lift me on every day, no matter what that day may bring.

I retired early from teaching because of MS, but instead of being sad and worried I seized the opportunity to turn to my lifelong dream and passion to write a book. Writing was very kind to me in the volatile world that can be MS. I have written and self-published my debut book, Born Together, which shares my story and my positive, optimistic view of life with multiple sclerosis. For me the process of acceptance is the long, hard and emotionally draining road. It took me a long time and eventually intense and life-changing counselling to accept the ‘different’ me. I have accepted that it is OK to be different, that it is OK that my body works differently. I do not see myself as disabled and never will. I am ‘differently’ abled. I wobble around a lot and I go out in a car, with a friendly arm to support my balance and walking. But I still go and do all the things I possibly can - I just do them differently. I have found new ways to do old things. My mantra is wecanfindaway.com.

The MS Trust is one of my few MS contact points. It shares uplifting and inspiring stories of life with this disease and that very much supports my forward-thinking, positive attitude to life with MS. We are here at this point in our life whatever the journey may be that has led us here. We have MS and we have to live our life with it. So, let us make that the best life we possibly can given our circumstances. That is where the MS jigsaw comes in. We all need our own MS jigsaw with what works for each and every one of us individually. So that we can reach our optimum wellbeing and ability. There is little benefit to the here and now by waiting on that one elusive #curems. Waiting on those clinical trials, laboratory tests. Yes, we all hold the hope that one day they will find something that works for MS without side-effects and invasive treatment. In the meantime, while that goes on in the background, let’s seize out lives as we have them. Let us make the best of what is in front of us. Let us take our futures in to our own hands with positivity and determination. Never give up. Never give in to this disease. Together wecanfindaway.com.

Patricia is a host on the global radio network, Ms and Me.  She presents the weekly Positively Different MS show, which you can listen to at 1pm and 7pm every Monday. The show will focus on living positively with MS and include expert interviews, tips on wellbeing, personal stories, and more. Listen here: https://msandme.airtime.pro

 

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