Today marks exactly a year since my life changed completely. I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a while now. I’m still not sure why exactly, but I have. Perhaps I am still trying to process the rollercoaster of emotions that come with any sort of anniversary.
On Sunday the 18th of September 2017, I was working my job as a waitress which was one of three jobs alongside a full-time degree at university. A few hours into my shift, I noticed I couldn’t really feel my legs. It started off subtle, mild weakness and a case of what just felt like ‘jelly legs’. It got stronger and stronger, to the point where I wasn’t sure how much longer I could stand for. Over the next few days, the weakness and numbness spread to my hands and arms, and eventually hit my face. By the end of the week, my body felt completely foreign to me. As well as the numbness, a wave of fatigue and constant aches and pains also riddled my body.
My doctor had mentioned MS to me earlier in the year, which I ignored then, but it was all I could think about now. It was also all my doctors could talk about, which didn’t help my state of panic.
Little did I know, I should have been more scared of not being diagnosed.
The first month was a blur; trips to the ER, to doctors, to specialists, to hospitals, invasive tests and procedures. Constantly surrounded by white walls, paper blue gowns and people I could barely understand.
I was just another number to these people. Another injection, another consultation, another scan, another patient.
The second month came along – still no answer. This is a good thing though; or so they kept telling me.
The third and the forth months flew by; I was beginning to lose hope. Is no news really ‘good’ news?
I am still not sure how I pulled myself out of those dark first few months, but I did.
I began finding small blessings every day, and eventually I realised that I was going to be OK. I accepted my health, and began to re-learn how to live my life. Starting this blog was an instrumental part of my emotional healing.
What is a year? We can measure it in days, weeks, or months. I, however, could measure my year in doctors’ appointments, new symptoms and medical procedures. A year is almost 5% of my time so far on earth, so I would say it is a substantial length of time.
The past year has by far been the most challenging year of my life. I had to make so many major life decisions that will impact me for the rest of my life. I had to relearn to how move, think and view life in a whole new way.
Despite these challenges, this past year has taught me so much and all in all I do have a lot to be grateful for and that’s what I need to focus on.
On the one hand, I am mourning the loss of my healthy and able body which makes today extremely difficult. However, on the other hand, I am celebrating overcoming such a challenging year and being able to say that I am still happy and still enjoying my life. Loss and rebirth.
I am really struggling to find the words for this post, and I think I am really struggling to accept that it’s been a whole year. In a way, it feels like it has been forever since I’ve been healthy and I am not sure I remember what it’s like to be completely able bodied. It also feels like just yesterday I was throwing myself up and around a pole, chasing my goals and living life without a care in the world.
I still try not to think about my old life, it gets me really down. I hope one day I will be able to reminisce and smile instead of cry.
For now, I will just keep pushing forward. I have survived the first year, so the odds are I’ll survive the next, and the next.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this year, even those of you who just read my blogs each week. You all mean a lot to me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without your encouragement and support.
I think I’ll enjoy a quiet glass of wine to myself tonight and reflect on all the beautiful things that have come from the past year and shed a silent tear for the old Ash. She would be damn proud of who I have become, but I will always miss her.
The image on the left is the last healthy photo I have of myself, and the right is me now. Other than a few extra pounds, there isn’t much difference between the two but I have lost so much and come so far between these photos.
Happy first anniversary to me.