Written By Anna Giannakouros
Never, in a million years, would I have expected to be disabled at the age of 45. Even after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 11 years ago, I never imagined it would come to this. My frame of mind was that I was a healthy, strong fighter determined to beat the odds and do whatever it took to beat this. Through diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, medication, top of the line newest treatments (some experimental), and sheer will alone, I would be victorious. And for many years, I was, or at least I thought I was.
Living with MS Disability
Five years ago my life shifted and the disease gained momentum. Despite my best efforts, it knocked me down like a tsunami. I keep getting back up each time, but so far the waves have been relentless and they just keep coming. It feels like just when I recover from the last blow and adapt to a new normal, another one comes out of nowhere and knocks me over again and I’m like: really?! Haven’t I had enough? How far will this go?
Life humbles you. You learn that there are things that are not always in your control. That life isn’t always fair. That nothing is really guaranteed.
I’ve also learned, though, that you may not always be in control of what happens to you, but you can always control your reaction to what is happening. Living with MS disability is hard physically and emotionally and in some ways it feels like every day is a battle. But I won’t let this battle define me or get the best of me. There are other things I can focus on and so many blessings in my life I can celebrate. Every single day I make a choice that I will live my best life possible in this body that I have been gifted, despite its limitations. I see every day as a gift and an opportunity to be happy. I’ve made the decision that no matter what life throws my way, I will adapt and overcome it. I’ll never stop making goals for myself and persevering even though it feels harder to accomplish things than it was before. Being disabled has opened my eyes to what is truly important in life and allows me to better appreciate the things that really matter.
Give Yourself Grace with a Mobility Aid
It takes courage to accept that you need a mobility aid and to do it with grace and style. In some ways, especially with a progressive disease, it feels like a step in the wrong direction. But it isn’t. It’s adapting to a circumstance so that you can remain successful and able in your life. There is no shame in accepting help when you need it and mobility aids are amazing inventions. They are gifts of independence. They are a means to an end.
My first mobility aid purchases were canes; then walking sticks; then a rollator/transport chair; a crutch; walkers; scooters; and most recently a Golden LiteRider Envy power chair. I chose aids that look cool and fit my personality. I name them and decorate them with stickers and other accessories staying true to my personality which is cool and fun. These devices empower me and facilitate my life and I’m very fortunate to have access to them.
Discover Your Inner Strength
It’s easy to give up and throw in the towel when you feel something is too difficult to endure. Real strength comes when you know the tsunami is coming and you still face it head on knowing you are probably really going to take a hit. I feel like with each step in this journey I’ve become a much stronger and resilient person and I now realize that being victorious and beating this doesn’t necessarily mean my walking with ease again. It means my living an amazing life no matter what the circumstance is. It means my learning to swim in the waves.