(Original blog post from 3/4/17)
I’m going to be 31 in a week. I’m not freaking out. Really. I’m more doing a little retrospect. 30 was my worst and my best year of my life, on a personal level.
I had my first MRI done shortly after New Years of 2016, and there were a solid three months of not having answers, and fearing the worst. While I definitely didn’t get the worst news in my opinion, it was far from the best. I’m talking about my MS diagnosis.
Those three months that I sat wondering what those lesions were on my spine and my brain were, were rough. There were many nights where I sat balled up on my husband’s lap crying because I was scared for my future. And while he listened intently to every word I said, and allowed me to say all of them, he never lost his positivity for me. I meant too much to him to think otherwise, and I get that. I think a lot of his strength is what ultimately gave me mine.
On my 30th birthday last year I did hot yoga for the first time. I think I sweat out my body weight. I even tweaked my knee during one of the poses, and could barely walk on it for about a week. That honestly really made me feel old in a hilarious way. Later that day I did some shopping and my husband and I went out to eat downtown. Unbeknownst to us, it was restaurant week, and we couldn’t get a table anywhere. Through a lot of trial and error, we ended up at one of our favorites – Flat Bread Pizza. We ordered a delicious pizza and drank delicious hard cider, and laughed about how the night went. Honestly, it was perfect.
I got my confirmation of MS diagnosis shortly after my birthday of last year. By the time the final word came, I was just ready for someone to tell me what I had going on. I remember I had my appointment in the morning and I went to work afterwards. My coworkers thought I was nuts, and my manager asked me if I needed to go home, but I really felt like that’s where I needed to be. In my normal day to day.
Months passed, and I read more and more about MS. I hadn’t had a real flare up yet, but I wanted to be ready. My neurologist told me the game plan for if or when I do have one.
I got a little crafty for a few months, and opened an Etsy shop. I made yarn hangings and had a couple orders. It was a great creative outlet since my job severely lacks any type of artsy creativity that I crave, but the logistics of packaging my items sidelined me for a bit, and I temporarily shut it down. I plan to open it back up at some point though.
That Summer, my husband mentioned veganism to me. We went into it full force on the first day of Summer, and we haven’t looked back. As the days pass, and we read more and more about veganism, it gets cemented that much more that we made the right decision.
In July, I googled “Vegans and MS” and found the Swank Diet. I pretty much started it the next day. And while I do have my days where I splurge (hello vegan cookies and the guacamole I had last night) I have stayed the course and I think my body is thanking me for it. I feel best when my saturated fat counts are low, as well as my sugar intake.
My brother got married in August and my best friend got married in September, and I was privileged enough to be in both weddings. Both days were so beautiful. I love love, and anything that makes those closest to me happy, makes me happy.
Later in August I got really fatigued, and had the hand tingling/numbness that MS brings about. I believe the heat was a culprit, since people with MS can have symptoms in extreme temperatures. We got a large AC unit for our living room to cool down our house and I improved.
In the Fall I took on a new role at work, while trying to tie up loose ends in my old position. This brought on a lot of added stress between trying to meet deadlines on both sides, and traveling to Wisconsin four weeks in the span of less than two months around the holidays. Stress, if you don’t know, is bad for people with MS. It prompts symptoms. The tingling came back and so didn’t the fatigue. I even ended up getting Optic Neuritis (another side effect of having MS) from a particularly stressful day at my job. But I worked around it the best I could and tried to find a compromise. I’m still trying.
The past few months have been filled with me studying for my Nutrition and Wellness Coach certification. I’m finally making some headway on my papers, and I’d really like to offer services online. The piece I’m most excited about is offering services to those with MS, and creating meal plans for those who want to follow Swank like I do. Figuring out the diet was overwhelming for me at first as well, but once you get into a groove it’s much easier. Had I known someone willing to make me a meal plan and shopping list, it would have been so much easier!
Throughout this entire year I’ve made progress and had stumbling blocks at the gym. I can’t work out the same way I was a few years ago. I’m learning when to push myself more and when to ease up. And with all that I have going on physically, I’ve actually never felt stronger. My husband tells me how proud he is of me all the time. And while I’m still working out years and years of body issues, he makes me feel beautiful, and I’m starting to see the beauty he sees.
Moral of all of this jibber jab is that, I had a pretty colorful past year. It was filled with ups and downs. I made some life changing decisions, and have had some set backs, but I kept going. I am doing everything in my power to remain happy. Changing my diet to suit my MS needs, changing my diet to suit my moral needs, altering my workouts to what I know my body needs, selling on Etsy to tap into my creative needs, and I’m studying nutrition to help others the way that I feel like nutrition has helped me. Life isn’t a box to be kept inside of, and with every wall that I knock down I feel like I’m finding more of myself.
I am a firm believer that the universe will always have a way of balancing you out. I got dealt a pretty shitty hand earlier last year, but I have never felt more comfortable in my skin and more confident about who I am, in my entire life. I feel like I’ve learned more in the last year than the last five years combined. I also feel like I’m just getting started.
I can’t wait to see what this year brings. Cheers to 31.