I lost myself. Pardon me for being blunt, but that’s something you may not realize happened to me for…well…nearly a year and a half. The flare up of my multiple sclerosis in 2018 took away the feeling in my feet, legs, chest, arms, and hands. All I could feel was constant pain.
Over a 17-month period, I figured out how to continue to be upbeat, encouraging, and even happy while dealing with the pain and the frustration of my body not cooperating with what I wanted it to do. I cheered on my friends as they got engaged, married, pregnant, adopted babies, and bought new homes. Their happiness helped me live with the chronic pain in my legs and hands.
My alarm still went off at 2:30 every morning. I came to work. I anchored newscasts and reported on stories. I laughed with my friends on the set, and that laughter was genuine.
At home, I was a wife and I was a mom. I had fun with my son and husband, but everywhere we went, the pain in my body came along with me. It was constant.
After awhile, I became tired. Pain is exhausting. Not knowing when, or if, it was going to end was exhausting. I would take naps, but honestly, I needed a nap after my nap. No amount of sleep was enough.
I found solace in food. I would hit a drive-thru, get a burger, fries, and a diet soda, and I would sit in the quiet of my car and eat. I was comfortable sitting in the small, quiet space. For some reason I felt like I could breathe there. I was in less pain there. Several days a week, that was my routine. Drive-thru, sit in silence, eat. Drive-thru, sit in silence, eat.
Suddenly as I got ready for work each morning, I started to feel like my outside matched my inside. My inside felt ugly and painful, and it was also painful to look in the mirror and see a reflection that couldn’t possibly be me. I was unrecognizable to myself.
When I spoke at events in the community, people always seemed so happy to see me. In the grocery store, in restaurants, while shopping, people always wanted a picture or to say hello…and I love people. I love saying hello and taking pictures with anyone who asks. So, I did all of those things with open arms, but for the first time in my life, I couldn’t comprehend WHY they were so happy to see me. I felt like I was gypping them. I felt like I wasn’t able to give them the news anchor they expected to see, the person they expected me to be. I became quietly obsessed with my appearance, with my weight (which tipped the scales at an unhealthy peak).
I have always been confident. I was a confident child, a confident woman. So, it was a very unfamiliar feeling to feel like I should shy away from pictures with people or try not to be seen. I mean, that’s crazy, right?! I’m in the public eye every day!
One day, I came to the sudden realization that I was avoiding being in pictures with my son. My little boy is 6. I looked at a number of pictures I took of him and my husband over the time of my flare-up, but I realized I wasn’t really in the picture anymore. I unintentionally removed myself.
So, that was it. That was my rock bottom…and when you hit rock bottom there is only one place to go. UP. I decided to find myself again — MS be damned.
After 17 months, the majority of my pain subsided. With the help of my husband and one of my dearest friends, Sarah, I began to climb. Sarah had just become a certified personal trainer (and she’s a whiz with nutrition). She always told me she was ready for me whenever I was ready to help myself. Well, in September of 2019, I was ready. 17 months after an excruciating MS flare up, I made a promise to be her “best student.”
We changed up my nutrition (goodbye fast food — hello meal prep). We increased my water intake (goodbye diet soda). We cut out sodium (oh Frank’s Red Hot…we will meet again one day my dear friend…maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon). We started working out four days a week. One of those days includes a neighborhood boot camp with some of my closest friends. We’re going through this wellness journey together.
As I became healthier, the fog seemed to lift. My energy returned. I started to like, dare I say love, myself again. I remembered that MS can make me physically weak at times, but it doesn’t have to make me weak as a person.
I got my groove back (I see you Stella). I found my confidence. I found my smile. I found my courage. I found myself…and boy am I happy to see her again.
The fight against Multiple Sclerosis is a constant battle. There is no cure. That is why we participate in events like Walk MS! If you would like to donate to the cause, or walk with the WAVY Warriors at Walk MS in April, click here.