I am not my diagnosis

I woke up one morning about 5 years ago and knew something was wrong…really wrong. The day started out just like it always did. My alarm clock buzzed me awake declaring a new day had begun. I sat up, stretched really big and yawned, only as I rubbed my eyes I could tell something was different.

I sat in bed and realized I couldn’t feel the upper right-side of my face. It was such a strange feeling. It wasn’t like I could have slept wrong pinching a nerve in my face. Was that even possible? And I knew an elephant didn’t sit on my head during the night because elephants don’t live in my neighborhood. What was it?

I spent a few days contemplating its cause. I think I was more hoping it would simply go away than anything, but each day I woke up to more of the same as the numbness kept growing to the side of my body and legs. That’s when I became concerned.

My diagnosis was a quick one due to the increasing symptoms that began appearing all throughout my body. The MRIs were indisputable. They showed the damage taking place inside my body. My immune system was having a picnic creating lesions in my brain and spine. The MS monster seemed to be starving and my Central Nervous System was its food.

Ever since that day, Multiple Sclerosis has been tagging along with me trying its best to define me. I’ve tried to shake it loose, hide it away, deny its existence, and even ignore it in hopes it would find somewhere else to live, but no matter what I’ve tried, it seems to simply dig in deeper refusing to move.

For whatever reason, MS has made its home in my body, but even though it is a part of my life, it’s still not who I am. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my symptoms. I am not MS.

My identity isn’t tied up in this disease. Do you know what else I learned? My identity isn’t my career or my talents either. Life changed and in the change I discovered I wasn’t any of those things.

So if those things are not me, then who am I?

I’ll tell you who I am. I’m a fighter who refuses to give up, that’s who I am. Sure, days get hard and many times I cry a bucket full of tears as the world crashes in on me, but somehow I rise above the difficulties. Somehow, I get through the day. Somehow I make it through the struggle.

Don’t let MS define you. Don’t let the bad days determine who you are. With each passing day, you are an amazing warrior standing strong even though your body is weak. Some days the battle will overwhelm you but you will also have days when you will overwhelm it. Stay in the fight. You are not your MS. You are admirable. You are fabulous. You are incredible. You are…well, you are YOU!

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero  

About the Author

Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

24 replies
  1. Ginger McKenzie
    Ginger McKenzie says:

    Great article! When people ask me how I deal with the chronic pain condition I have I tell them “I do my best to put it in the back burner & focus on what’s happening around me, not in how I’m feeling.”

  2. Darlene Coffey Chapman
    Darlene Coffey Chapman says:

    I woke one morning to get ready for work. Went to have a shower, turned on light…I couldn’t see out of my left eye…totally black. I was finally diagnosed with MS. There were no MRIs in those days. I’ve had to have many attacks to be diagnosed. In the six months prior I had had six major attacks. To this day I am still blind in that eye, have many other problems, too many to list…life goes on…I wish you wellness and happiness

  3. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thanks Penelope as I have written we can’t lose ourself in this monster. But I have had an appointment with a top Urologist to sort my bladder problems out. After a radiologist pressure testing program (an invention time) it was found I have urethra nerves that have been taken over by MS and causing blockages and thus retention problems. So in a way I’m pleased with their findings and I don’t need any prostrate surgery. Now we can start to sort it out properly.
    And I’m still me, I might not look the same but I’m still me. Nothing is going to take that away.

  4. Brenda Mclaughlin
    Brenda Mclaughlin says:

    I have PPMS and I have really bad Trigeminal neuralgia on the left side of my face it is trapped nerves in my face . I was told it is more painful than having a baby hope this helps x

  5. Leah
    Leah says:

    Penelope, you’re right about what you said, yet I still feel very bothered when I get the pitiful stares from strangers who aren’t quite sure what I have. Just came back from Europe and people on the plane were gawking at me as I slowly dragged myself to the restroom. Sure, I get to pre-board because I’m in my travel wheelchair, but the constant stares are frustrating.

  6. Melinda
    Melinda says:

    Penelope, thank you. I find myself in this awful MS sinkhole, often, and it is then that I let it define me. But, I will fight! I will continue to be as much of the real me that I can be, in spite of MS. I have faith in God, and even though MS has made me ask, “why?!?!”, I know He has a plan in it.
    Thanks so much for reminding me to just be me…

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