Two years ago life was great, I had got my life together, I had returned to education, had begun training as a hairdresser, had two beautiful kids and a beautiful home for my little family. How things can change in the space of a few weeks.
On the 14th of February 2015 just before my 25th birthday, my whole world came crashing down around me. It was on this day that my doctor said four words that changed my life forever, ‘Michelle its Multiple Sclerosis’.
How did it feel to hear those words? I have no idea, I was numb. Unable to feel anything. Honestly, I had no idea what MS was, I just knew it wasn’t good. Looking back now I can’t remember the day properly. It was such a haze. My doctor tried to explain the diagnosis to me in the simplest of terms, trying to put a positive spin on it.
I returned home to tell my family the news. I watched my father’s face crumble in heartbreak. I looked into my mother’s eyes as she struggled to try to stop herself from collapsing in devastation; my two-year-old son playing on the floor oblivious to what was going on, whilst my 7-year-old daughter outside playing happily with her friends.
A few weeks later I woke up with the whole left-hand side of my body numb as if someone had drawn a line down the middle of my body. My right side was unaffected but the left side completely dead. Panic set in and I had no idea of what to do, what was wrong with me? Is this MS? Is this numbness the start of my deterioration?
I called my doctor and he sent me straight to the Hospital, I was admitted and ended up staying for a week. Another hazy period of time. A blur of blood tests, lumbar punctures, IV steroids, prodding and poking, eye exams, MRI scans, x-rays, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, teams of doctors, student doctors, endless questionnaires, sympathetic looks, big words and phrases I didn’t understand. Relapse? Symptoms? Lesions? Exacerbations?
I remember feeling the most alone and scared I had ever felt in my life. Once I had returned home from the hospital I set upon the task of understating and managing this disease. I started trawling through the MS Ireland website and have never looked back. All of the information I needed was right there. I even got to read other people’s stories.
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to pick up the phone and get in touch with a woman from MS Ireland called Patricia Lucey. That was the single best phone call I have ever made. She has been a rock for me to lean on. Always there to talk and more importantly to listen. She has made several house calls to me and has even introduced me to meditation to help me manage my anxiety. Somewhere along the way I have embraced my diagnosis and took it on head first.
The people I need to thank the most though are my friends and family, without them, I would be nothing. To thank them and everyone else, I have decided that two years on it’s time to give a little back and to embrace more fears. I have dared myself to take part in the 10,000ft skydive for MS Ireland on 8th March as part of the ‘Kiss goodbye to MS’ campaign. I am hoping for some help in raising vital funds so that other people in similar situations can avail of the wonderful services that MS Ireland provide. Any donation no matter how big or small will make a huge difference and I will be eternally grateful to each and every one of you.
If anyone would like to make a donation here is the link to the page I have set up on the just giving website www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michelle-Hanley3