MS Means...Living and Laughing with Multiple Sclerosis

One Woman's Odyssey about Coping with Chronic Illness

About Carolyne

Who am I?

I am Carolyne Marshall – a person with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

I have multiple sclerosis. I was officially diagnosed in 2002 with MS, and deal with symptoms such as  Fatigue, pain and memory problems being my main issues from it. Since I am the kind of person who seeks to always turn negatives into positives in some fashion, I turned my struggles into a website called “MS Means…Multiple Sclerosis”, a repository for how to live, love, and laugh with MS, and not be cowed by doctors pronunciations and the “boxes” that the medical and social community likes to apply to people.

You see, I am much more than a person with MS – I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, and a daughter. I am a meteorologist, a scientist, an artist, and an animal lover. I love to laugh, and laugh as much as I can in my life. I can be serious, and sometimes I love a good cry. I cry when I am happy; I cry when I am sad; I even cry when I am angry. I am a stand-up comedian wannabe; I am a serious researcher of life. I am an avid reader of books; a mystery lover; and a lover of antiquities, myths, legends, and lore. (Click here to read about my Hurricane Juan adventure! )

I am the daughter of a woman who also had multiple sclerosis.

I am a full-fledged Canadian who will always consider Calgary, Alberta, as my home town – it is the place where I grew up, both literally and figuratively. I have lived in Vancouver, British Columbia; in Montreal, Quebec (and yes, I speak French as well as English); in Toronto, Ontario; in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, (where I became a bona fide country music convert); in Halifax, Nova Scotia (where my boys and I grew up together). After all these various moves around Canada as a meteorologist, I landed in Ottawa, Ontario where my hubby and I plan to settle for a good long time.

When I was officially diagnosed with MS, the docs told me I had to slow down, stop exercising so hard (the reason being that heat will worsen my MS symptoms)…that I’d eventually be unable to walk, etc. And guess what? That started happening – because I ended up putting on 80 lbs from the drugs they pumped into me and the lack of exercise. I got to a point where I thought I actually might need a wheel chair full-time – the pain and immobility were becoming too much for me.

Then I got angry – mad at the constant fear, the pain, and the pushing of the doctors to “slow down”. I disregarded the doctors’ advice, got myself off the soup of meds they give you, and lost 85 lbs and got muscular and hard and flexible once again – more fit and active than most  so-called “healthy” people I know. My pain lessened significantly. My energy sky-rocketed. The more active I became, the more active i was able to remain.

On October 30 2008 I was taking my dog for a hike, when I apparently lost consciousness on the highway, drove through a gas station area, then into a ditch, with the tires spinning and smoke coming out of the car. Witnesses thought the car was on fire, but it turns out my right foot was jammed on the gas. Anyway – long story short – we thought I had fainted, because I had fainted once before about a year before that. It turned out that I had had a full-on grand mal seizure…one that seriously injured my core/back during the accident.  I have absolutely no memory of any of it – except for darkness and alot of pain. I was lucky to be alive and to not have killed anyone. (And it has made MRI’s a little more of a challenge, since I seem to get claustrophobic now. Go figure!)

After my accident – fear, confusion, and pain took hold. Not just mine though – my family & friends feared for my life, and began to over-protect me, even smother me at times, truth be told. In my confusion and pain, I allowed it and sank into it. I stopped blogging on my website, telling myself it was ok because I was in too much pain, I did not have the energy, the doctors were telling me again to slow down, stop trying so hard, etc. After pushing too hard too soon and ending up back in bed, I think that fear began to sink into me deeply. I did just enough to keep my heart fit within the limitations of my injuries, but not enough to do what was needed – and that is to lose the negative attitude and get my body back again.

As it turns out, I have had more grand mal seizures since the Accident. While seizures are often not thought of as a symptom of MS, and only about 5-10% of people with MS develop seizures, they do occur… and the info is only usually shared after one hits! I happen to be one of those lucky few to suffer from seizures. I take medication daily to control it. For 5 years after the seizures started, I could no longer drive and thus I had to move from the country into the city. Once we got the seizures controlled by meds, I was able to drive again…but it changed my life permanently. I have changed my lifestyle to incorporate stress reducing techniques – yoga being the most important of all. My life has changed completely in a very short period of time. Yoga transformed my life…see how (Carolyne’s Yoga Transformation and journey into becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher).

I am Carolyne Marshall – a person who has relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. But my MS does not have me.

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