When I found out I had multiple sclerosis (MS), I was in shock. It was not the kind of shock when a panic attack sets in. At that moment, I was more worried about explaining it to my mom, who was napping in my vehicle. Unlike many people living with MS, I did not have any medical history that could point to a chronic illness. There was no optic neuritis or ambulatory issues.
It took some time for my diagnosis to sink in. Once it did, it was the end of the life I was living and the one I had planned.
I was supposed to be an attorney. My analytical nature and talkative personality led others to think I would be a good lawyer. Add in a paralegal and law librarian mother and attorney father, and it’s game over. I was destined to be a legal eagle. This determination of my future was not entirely foisted on me. I do have a love of the law and like to read appeals court cases.
Becoming a lawyer was supposed to be in my blood, except it was not. Loving the law is not the same as wanting to practice it.
When I realized that I did not want to be a lawyer, I was stuck in limbo. What was I going to do if I was not going to be an attorney? I had no other dreams in my back pocket. I tried to dig deep to find another career passion.
While I was on that path, my love for Macintosh computers came slowly to the forefront. In college, I saw “Mac a Mug” in the computer lab and enjoyed the visuals. Before I knew it, I was a graphic designer and a web designer. I enjoyed the craft and helping people with their business needs.
A couple of decades later I was on my way to grad school to solidify my consulting career. Then my MS diagnosis set off a bomb in my world. When I walked out of the emergency room with an MS diagnosis, I knew that everything had changed. I did not know how it changed, but I did understand that the life I had planned was not headed in the same direction.
I had completed a graduate degree and jumped right into another. I had my LLC and first client in hand. The long road to a career was finally ending in an actual destination. At least I thought it had.
Read more about the diagnosis of MS
MS made me stop dead in my path. For the first time in my life, I stopped to consider what it was that I really wanted to do. The law profession was based on my tendencies and heritage. My design work was something I drifted into. Microbusiness consulting was the practical outcome of my work. As much as I liked all of these, they were not my true passion. The common theme of all of these was my desire to be of service.
I wanted to help people. It was not a path filled with financial security, but it is the one for me. It took my MS diagnosis to propel me into understanding and acting on what gratifies my soul. Advocating for others inspires and motivates me. I now use that talkative nature to speak for those who cannot. Without MS I doubt I would have found out that advocacy is my true path in life.
For all of the negatives that MS has brought me, it also did some good. MS made me rethink my life. It made me look deep into myself. It gave a direction in life. It made me change. It made me a better person.