After Rob was diagnosed, he thought he’d have to give up his favorite hobby. But he opened up to adapting to his new self and continued doing what he loves.
While relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) is a life-changing disease, it doesn't have to be life-limiting. Since my diagnosis in early 2015, I've learned that lesson firsthand.
At first, I was convinced that relapsing MS would impact my "seize the day" outlook on life. I was afraid that this would be especially true for the things I love to do the most, like taking care of my yard. I often say that being outside in the fresh air is "my happy place."
Before my diagnosis, I spent nearly every weekend in the yard, no matter what the weather was like. Now, I’m more careful about being in the sun—I try to only go out when it’s not too intense. And if I start to feel tired, I listen to my body and go inside.
Limiting my time outside can be difficult during the holidays. I love to decorate our house with festive lights and ornaments. In fact, I can't bear the sight of our home without holiday decorations. But due to my relapsing MS, I’m not the one climbing the ladder to get the lights up anymore. Nowadays, my wife and the rest of the family step in to help. And even though it may be a little different than it used to be, I'm thankful that we can continue to honor this tradition without putting me at risk of getting hurt.
I must admit that I still get frustrated when I'm outside raking and I've only filled 3 bags of leaves in the same time it took me to fill 20 before my diagnosis. I don't think that feeling will ever go away. But I've developed a new, inner strength that allows me to persevere. I’m finding new ways to adapt and say yes to my favorite hobbies. I still live my life with a “seize the day” attitude and do everything in my power to make the most of each day with my family and friends.
I am proof that small changes can make a big difference in living your life with relapsing MS. MS may present its own unique challenges, but the bottom line is that by making some adjustments I still get to enjoy "my happy place," I still get to say yes, and that's just fine by me.
Rob V. is a paid spokesperson for Biogen and has experience taking Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate). He may or may not be currently on TECFIDERA.