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My MS diagnosis inspired me to write a book

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Lisa
 Having hidden her MS for a number of years, Lisa Murray-Lang decided to put pen to paper and write a book about her life with the condition as a way of letting others know. This is Lisa’s inspiring story.

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with MS in 2007 after noticing weird tingling in my fingers. I went to the doctors about four times, and every time they’d say ‘Oh that’s strange’. Eventually I was sent for an MRI scan and they found scarring on my brain. I was told I had primary progressive MS. At the beginning, the only person I knew with MS was a friend of my mum’s, who was in a wheelchair, so all I kept thinking was ‘Is that going to happen to me?’

I was very much in denial at first and I just kept everything bottled up inside. I didn’t want to be defined by those two letters, so my way of coping with it was to take on as many challenges I could, with the attitude, ‘While I can, I will’. But as the disease progressed, I was finding my foot wasn’t picking up like it used to and I was falling over a lot, so the challenges had to change. But whenever it gets me down, I just remind myself that it could be much, much worse. I know I am one of the lucky ones.

After all my health worries, I was dealt another blow when I was made redundant from my job as a designer at Cadbury’s after 13 years working there. But actually this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It made me revaluate my life and do something that I really loved; so I set up my own dog walking and pet sitting business. Animals have been my saving grace. They don’t look at you funny, or say ‘Why are you limping?’. They just accept everything.

Putting pen to paper

Changing career was also the push I needed to open up about my condition – and I decided to do so in a book! How do you drop a bombshell like that in the middle of a conversation?!  The book, which is called On a Whisker and a Prayer, is basically my memoir, touching on the ups and downs, laughter and tears of life with MS. I didn’t want it to be depressing or frightening – I wanted to keep it light-hearted, and I’ve included a Purple Ronnie-style comic strip as a way of explaining MS to my friends and colleagues.

I wrote and designed the book, it’s 100% me and I found the whole process very therapeutic. I kept my MS bottled up for so long, so it was a relief to write everything down, get it out in the open and tackle it head-on. I hope the book inspires people. I want it to show that once you’re diagnosed, that’s not it, so don’t let people write you off.

Advice for others

My advice for other people who have been diagnosed with MS is not to turn to Dr Google. Take it one day at a time, and remember that everybody is different: there is no text book case or set path to follow.