Anna's Thriving Statement
Hi, my name is Anna. I happen to have Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. As of this date, there are not too many options for me to slow down the progression of this monster disease. Instead of sulking and getting depressed, I choose to live my life to the fullest and thumb my nose to MS.
My symptoms are right side muscle weakness, fatigue, pain and balance issues. These difficulties keep me from doing a lot of things most people can do. but I try not to let these things I cannot do get me down. Instead, I fill my life with activities I have found that I can do!
I used to love aerobics class. I obviously can't do that anymore. So I fill that void with Water aerobics at my local YMCA. I also do weight training to keep my muscles strong.
I used to be a marathon runner, which I can no longer do with my MS. I took up therapy horseback riding. The horse does the running for me. You may ask what the benefit is for me? I get to feel like I'm running again, I'm bonding with a majestic animal that is trained to react to my signals. It's exercise! It takes a lot of body work to handle a horse. The obvious reason is its fun!
I also belly dance. I used to be a ballet dancer, which is not possible because of my right side weakness, gait and balance issues. I had a chance meeting with a belly dancer who suggested I try this type of dancing because it is more fluid and keeps you almost completely on the ground. I tried a class about seven years ago and haven't turned back! I'm now part of a senior belly dance troupe named the Silver Moon Gypsies. We perform at senior centers, assisted living residences, rehabilitation hospitals, fairs, charity events. We try to spread the message that finding a passion, keeping fit and having fun is no longer reserved for the young.
My other passion is more cerebral. I volunteer for a reading service called Audio Journal. This service is geared for the visually and reading impaired. You can hear a variety of programs read over the air on particular cable TV stations and on the internet. Subjects range from newspapers, books, magazines, and a wide array of subjects to capture the interest of almost anyone. I read for a program named Audio Journal's Sport Page. I research and read sport stories about disabled individuals. I truly enjoy doing this! I get the joy of helping others by reaching people and giving them the opportunity to hear stories about disabled people doing remarkable things.
All of these new activities I do have been the best things that have ever happened to me. MS might have messed up some of my life but it has taught me to persevere and conquer!
Do not dwell on the things you can no longer do. Just thumb your nose to MS and find something new! It might turn out to be the most fulfilling thing you have ever tried!