Creating a Happy Life

Friendly Wheels, Issue 39
May 2011

By: Shelley Peterman Schwarz

Shelley P. SchwarzThe following is a condensed version of the original article appearing on Shelley's website

When I was
diagnosed with MS, I was determined NOT to let it change my life. But the illness had other plans for me. I woke up every morning worse than I was the day before. Ever so slowly I lost my physical abilities.

As I cut back on all but essential activities, my world outside the home began to shrink. If I had to give up my outside activities, I'd lose another piece of me. Losing my independence was bad enough, but I didn't want to lose my contact with people. My family would be my first priority, and running a close second would be my friends. I was determined to live a life filled with interesting people and fun activities.

One of the first places I thought I could involve people in my life was with range of motion exercises. I couldn't get out to swim or go to the YMCA anymore because it just took too much out of me. So for the past 15 years, I've had a wonderful combination of paid helpers and volunteers come into my life to help me exercise.

Over the years, I learned so much from the men and women who helped me. Special bonds grew and as close friends we talked about everything from divorce and raising kids to caring for aging parents and what we were having for dinner. People have different interests and talents and I've learned to capitalize on that. No one could ask for more special friends.

When I'm alone, I enjoy writing on the computer. I've been keeping a journal since my diagnosis in 1979. I read books to help me improve my writing skills and books to help me cope better.

altThe people I know with MS are doing the best they can. It would be easy for us to fall into a "Gee, ain't it awful!" pattern, but the people I seek out are like me. They're trying to make a good life for themselves. They're problem solvers and solution seekers.

Ask your local MS Society to put you in touch with others who will give you the kind of support and encouragement I'm talking about.
MS may have a big hold on us but we must NEVER let it take over who we are.  

You and I can fill our lives with positive people who want to be around us because we are so much MORE than this illness.

Read the full article here.

Read more Friendly Wheels articles here.

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