Why Now: The true story behind why my diagnosis has remained a secret until now: Part 3

True Love

January, 2011-December, 2013

One week later, my good friend came up to visit me in Galveston. He was my first friend from Victoria that actually made the 3 hour drive & he brought along his friend with him who I had only met a few times before….Scott Spahn.

That first weekend in January led to the start of daily text conversations, endless hours of nightly phone conversations & a relationship that was so wonderful I refused to believe it was even real. In fact, I didn’t. I fought it with every ounce I had in me, but Scott Spahn pursued as if nothing could possibly scare him away.

Scott & I officially began dating in February, 2011 & I was slowly being put back together. That man made me feel things & made me feel a way I never thought was possible. I didn’t know feelings or love like that existed & I knew deep down that if me & this man were going to end up with any type of future I had to tell him about my diagnosis of MS with the reality that my prognosis remained unknown.

I prayed, I cried, I feared so much what would happen after I told him. I had many nightmares that he would walk away from me. Anyone that knows anything about MS knows that the “norm” is not a very pretty future…..

After numerous planned, but failed attempts & many “perfect opportunities” I finally got up the nerve to tell him. I took him to my favorite spot on Galveston Beach & told him I had to tell him something. With trembling hands, pounding heart, crackling voice, & tears in my eyes; I told him everything. I told him that I had been diagnosed with MS 3 years ago & I didn’t know what my future held for me. He immediately started asking questions of concern & offering help to me. He was a perfect angel in accepting me for me even though we were very fresh into our dating relationship. This was the hardest conversation I ever had to have with another individual.

After I finally was able to tell Scott I left it there. I continued to not talk about it to anyone else. I felt he needed to know, but still kept my telling to an “as needed basis” which basically means no one else in Texas knew…

Well, that man continued to lift me up higher & higher & make me whole again as a person. In December, 2012 that same man got down on one knee & asked me to marry him. I eagerly accepted & have continued to be made stronger & confident as an individual.

In August, 2013 I made the decision to apply to be a MS Run the US Relay Runner & knew in the back of my mind this meant I may have to be a little bit more forthcoming with my situation. Finally, when I found out I was accepted as a relay runner in December, 2013 I made the official announcement & let the “cat out of the bag” that I had been hiding for nearly 6 years… I told EVERYONE I had multiple sclerosis.

I’ve been asked so many times, “Why now?” My answer to that is: It is time. It wasn’t before. I have always believed I was told I had MS for a reason. I had always believed I was told I had it for the purpose of inspiring others. Well, between then & now I wouldn’t have been able to do anything with myself to allow that to happen. I wouldn’t have been able to inspire anyone at any level, let alone had any motivation to do anything inspiring for myself. I was just trying to survive.

That is what has changed. I have now accepted my diagnosis. My prognosis continues to remain unclear & that still scares me as much as it did as on April 29, 2008 but that is not what was stopping me from telling people. What stopped me from telling people is I wasn’t ready to be an inspiration. I could barely keep myself motivated just to get up in the morning.

Now, I am ready! I am built back up & stronger than ever! I owe it all to the man that just recently gave me his last name.

I’ve already experienced a select few around me try to tear me back down. If that would have happened to me 3 years ago I would have failed. I may not be here today because I couldn’t have handled it, but I am strong enough now to stand on my own two feet and make a difference. I am doing what I believe in. I am doing what I believe God wants me to do. I am doing what I believe God has planned for me to do all along….the time is NOW!

Why Now: The true story behind why my diagnosis has remained a secret until now. Part 2

October, 2009-February, 2010

The Lord did not answer my prayers. If anything, my MS symptoms alleviated. It wasn’t long before I was offered a job as a personal trainer at a location I had worked at years before I even left home to obtain my master’s. I accepted the job, but unfortunately, it did not offer any health insurance. I remained off of my injections & I continued to keep my MS a secret from the new people entering my life. At this time, having multiple sclerosis became the lowest priority on my list. I no longer felt the need or the energy to bother anyone with that as an addition to me as a person.

I can honestly say that I did make one friend during this time of my life. He was new to the area & had accepted a job near where I was working. We would hang out on occasion & just talk. He needed a friend & he must have known…so did I. I felt distant from everyone else that was currently in my life. I felt as if I shouldn’t bother anyone that already knew me and constantly feared that they were judging me. Not him. He took me with a clean slate & that is exactly what I needed in my life at this time. I admired him & how much he appeared to have his life together & truly, I envied him. I knew I wanted to “have it all together” just like him & unknowingly I took him as an example for what I wanted for myself. The idea came to me that I had to start with a clean slate to everyone around me…I had to start over.

March, 2010-January,2011

I took this idea & ran with it. I began applying for jobs nationwide. I ended up accepting a job in Victoria, Texas & with my parents escorting me I made the 1,300 mile relocation in March, 2010. With a small trailer stuffed with my belongings & my little Hyundai Tiburon my parents left me & my dog Cody in a tiny one bedroom apartment.

When they pulled away, the feeling of abandonment was so overwhelming. It was the scariest feeling I have ever felt in my entire life and yet it was exactly what I wanted; a clean slate. I didn’t know anyone & no one knew me. I could become whoever I wanted!

Unfortunately, being the new depressed girl with multiple sclerosis is not what I wanted to be, so I put on a terrific, “new slate” face! I immediately made a lot of new friends & my new friends were there to help keep my head on straight & distract me from the worries of the world that I had left so far away.

I was enjoying my fresh start so much I figured I would just ignore the MS all together to the point where even after I became eligible for health insurance again, I did not pursue following up with a neurologist. I completely ignored the fact that I ever was even told I had the disease not just 2 years ago.

Well, summer was quickly approaching & my family began planning our 2010 annual MS event & this year’s plan was to participate in the Wisconsin Mud Run due to the MS 150 coinciding with my best friend’s wedding day.   I was reminded all over again that I had the illness & denial was no longer the coping mechanism that would work for me. I was ready to tell someone…someone that I felt would not change how they perceived me.

I decided to share the news with my new Texas best friend. I remember she was heartbroken, scared, & worried. I felt like I had been betraying her by not telling her & feared that she would resent me for it or treat me different. She did not & was my angel for it. She was the first person I had shared my diagnosis with in over 2 years. Unfortunately, telling my friend did not make life any easier.

At this point, I was broken down almost to the point of no return. I kept on a good face for my new friends, but on the inside I was screaming. I made the trip back home to attend my best friend’s wedding where I unfortunately decided to have a mental breakdown. After that day, I knew then that if I didn’t straighten up I would literally not survive. I realized I had a serious problem, but still did not know how to overcome the barriers I was facing. From August of 2010 to January of 2011, I will admit that I almost didn’t make it as a human being.

Despite being well aware that I had issues, I continued to fall closer to rock bottom. I received news that my friend that had originally motivated me to move with a clean slate, the one I had met during that dark time when I was living with my parents decided to end his own life. I did not understand why or how & my rage against God & the world was at its limit. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would be sentenced to the same fate. I was terrified at this point of what would become of me, and I was losing my strength to press on.

Immediately after receiving the heartbreaking news of my friend’s death, I was faced with a choice & that choice (although I still do not regret my decision to this day), led to the permanent loss of a very close relationship to a girl I considered to be like my sister. I was heartbroken that what little allies I did have; I was losing…and to top it all off, this all coincided with my 2nd relocation to Galveston, Texas so even my small Victoria support group was no where near. This is when I finally hit rock bottom. This was when I had sunk till there was nowhere else to go.

I believe God knew I had finally met my limit because he sent my big brother to come to my aid in January of 2011.

My brother visited & we had a great week together. Unfortunately, the week ended with a heated argument & him speeding off in a mad rage telling me that I was better than the life I was living & he had faith I could turn it around. He stressed the importance of me doing it quicker than I had been attempting.

He left me feeling abandoned once again & I was left alone with my thoughts. At first, I was heartbroken & angered at my brother’s rage. However, in retrospect I realize it was the greatest thing anyone has ever done for me. I’m sure it was hard for him to be so blunt & forthcoming to me, however this is what saved my life. I re-capped on the last 5 months of my life, and realized how low I had sunk in my standards both for myself & those I was allowing in to my life.