If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you need to fight it or live with it…or both!
Here’s how Laurie lives in harmony with MS – she’s a Chronic Wellness Coach and inspirational speaker who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three years ago.
“Life really can get better, despite a chronic illness,” says 44 year old Laurie Erdman of Washington, DC. “And yes, you can even be grateful for a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis! Before I was diagnosed, I wish I knew I had everything I needed – the knowledge, the resources, the people, the time – to make changes I had been too afraid or too stubborn to make in my life.”
If you’re living with MS, read Awkward B*tch: My Life with MS. Laurie didn’t recommend it – but I do. Author Marlo Donato Parmelee was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 32 – it’s the most common neurological disease amongst young adults today. Her attitude has always been been “forget multiple sclerosis – I still look hot!”
The book will make you laugh and cry – which is what Living in Harmony With Chronic Illness is all about.
Here’s what Laurie says about living with Multiple Sclerosis…
Laurie’s Diagnosis of MS – and How She Lives in Harmony With It
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009, after 4 months of tingling and numbness. Later, I experienced some cognitive symptoms when faced with lots of stress. I’m in remission. Four days after I was diagnosed, I realized that medical science didn’t have anything more to offer than a few drugs that weren’t full proof and without risk. I first turned to nutrition and then to stress management and self-care to create a life transformation plan.
There is so little we can control in life. I learned to release those things I couldn’t control (a herculean feat for a type-A lawyer!). Instead, I began to control what I could. That included the food I ate, the amount of sleep I got, and how I reacted to stressors. I gave up on getting places on time.
I also cultivated a positive attitude to replace my formerly cynical, sarcastic self.
So in some ways, multiple sclerosis did take over my life in that I made a lot of changes to manage the condition. I now green juice regularly – a big change from my sugar and caffeine driven life. However, I am dictating how MS presents in my life.
Tips for Coping With Multiple Sclerosis
Pick up the phone and search for the lessons. I believe chronic illness is a wake up call; likely a call that was preceded by many smaller ones, like it was for me. I think we get scared that making changes will mean the disease has us. Yet if we ignore the reality of the multiple sclerosis diagnosis, we live in a diminished capacity.
I would also encourage people diagnosed with MS or any illness to be open to the question – “what can I learn from this?” You will be surprised by the answers.
I was a bit of a control freak. I’ve heard the Chinese view MS as a disease of control. Multiple sclerosis taught me to loosen my grip, to let love in and to find my true passion. I’m not a Polly Anna by any means, but changing and adapting to reality is much easier than fighting.
I would also recommend not giving up and asking lots of questions. That next treatment for MS may just be the thing that works for you! Even If a dietary change or a massage doesn’t cure you, it will make you feel better in the long run. That’s all anyone can hope for in life.
Surprising Things About Multiple Sclerosis
MS is unpredictable and varies for everyone. When I was first diagnosed, I heard one of two stories: 1) “I have an aunt who has had MS for 20 years and is doing great, you’ll be fine.” and 2) “Oh, I’m so sorry, I know a gal who died of MS, are you going to quit your job?”
There is no prognosis for multiple sclerosis. If my immune system decided to go after my optic nerves, I could lose my sight. If it went after the right nerve cells, it could interrupt my ability to eliminate (go to the bathroom) completely. There is just no way to know.
Also, many of the effects of this chronic illness can be invisible. Someone can look great, but be in pain or exhausted because of multiple sclerosis. One person’s experience with MS probably won’t be the same as yours.
Why Laurie Doesn’t Fight MS
As I drove home from the doctor’s office following the diagnosis, I remembered a section in Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”. She talked about how if we fought disease, our body would become a battleground. I wanted to avoid that at all cost.
Choosing to live in harmony with MS has given me some great gifts. I decided to use the diagnosis for good and to inspire others to answer the wake up calls of life. That decision to choose love and harmony versus a battle has led to great satisfaction and fulfillment.
If I were to fight MS, I feel like I would never have changed my life, certainly not my attitude. And in that, I’m not sure I would have been able to change the lives I have. That has been the greatest gift I’ve gotten from multiple sclerosis.
I changed my diet and lifestyle because I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Yet the side effects of those changes were profound. I lost 40 pounds. My energy skyrocketed. My skin cleared up. A laundry list of minor ailments disappeared. I felt like I had discovered the fountain of youth!
I went back to school to become a holistic health coach so I could help others answer the wake up call of illness, fatigue and extreme stress. My weekly blog shares simple tips to increase energy, happiness and vitality for working women.
I founded Chronic Wellness Coaching, and I help individuals with chronic illness or chronic stress travel from fatigued to fabulous. I offer monthly group programs such as my Super Sugar Shake Down: 10 Days to Supercharged Freedom Detox.
I’ve also developed online classes such as my Anti-inflammatory Diet 101: Kick Start Your Energy and Solitude: A Radical Self Care Tool For Chronic Wellness.
If you have any questions for Laurie, coping with multiple sclerosis, or living in harmony with chronic illness, visit her blog or ask below.