So on June 5 I woke partially paralyzed on one side of my body and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) nine days later. At the end of September, after a visit to the MS clinic, I left work to go on disability.
Before I had gotten sick, I had booked a vacation for a week in San Diego to spend with my friend Pam Rojas. I had met Pam on a POISON website. My doctors said to go, canceling it would have meant I lost money anyway, so I went. Pam was a great hostess but I was adjusting to the disease and my uncertain future so I don’t think I was the best house guest. I had a good time though and she still talks to me so I couldn’t have been that bad! LOL
Once back at home, reality took over. I was living on employment insurance for a few months until my disability pension started. But because the MS doctor had written I was likely never to return to work, EI kept insisting I reprove I was disabled. One time, they wanted proof just before Christmas! Try getting anything done with offices at that time of year! My stress levels were through the roof and that made my MS symptoms worse.
There were stalls in payments. Like the time I told a social worker that when the symptoms came and went I sometimes wondered if I had imagined it. She said that at least now I was admitting I had made it up. That was the last time I saw her. And just for the record, that is what Multiple Sclerosis symptoms do – come and go. Not having enough money to pay for everything, my body doing strange things to me – all put a terrible burden on me. At times, I felt myself bowing under the strain.
Fortunately, I had an understanding landlord who got paid even if it was every two weeks to make a month’s rent. I juggled my other payments and bought cheap food. My parents also helped where they could and took me out so I wasn’t stuck in the same four walls. And I had my birds. Two cockatiels that were my babies, they got me up in the morning and entertained me and gave me affection.
I was also beginning to realize that I had been given a gift in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I’ll tell you more about that next week.
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Karen is profiled in our Celebrate Audacious Series