Veteran Kathleen Owings served in the Army after graduating from West Point. Here is her story.
When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was scared. I was concerned and unsure of my physical and mental wellbeing and the impact it would have on my family and friends. While some may say I’ve been lucky that MS has not disrupted my life in any major way, I don’t feel that it’s just luck.
Since my diagnosis, I have a greater appreciation for my health. I make sure that I take care of myself by exercising, eating healthy, making sure that I get plenty of sleep, and taking my medications as prescribed. With this diagnosis, I feel that I need to be vigilant about keeping my body healthy and strong.
Kathleen in West Point cadet uniform
I’ve also learned to be aware of my MS issues, the most notable being heat intolerance, which I had before my diagnosis. While I stay active, I’m acutely aware of what my body is telling me, and I pay attention.
Into uphill skiing
Since my diagnosis, I’ve found enjoyment in challenging myself through various outdoor activities. While I’ve always enjoyed downhill skiing, I’ve recently gotten into uphill skiing, which bypasses the ski lift to the top.
As the weather warms up, I’ll get back into running. I recently signed up to do my first ultra-marathon. While this is a longer distance than I’m used to, I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself beyond my limits.
In addition to taking care of myself, I have regular visits with my VA MS providers. We make sure everything is going well with my body and medications. I get my MRIs close to home which works well for me. VA has made it very easy for me to access care in Denver or closer to my home, and I have a great relationship with my providers.
Thankful for what I have – every day is a gift
I’ve been living with MS for over 12 years. There are some days that I see this diagnosis as a blessing. It gives me perspective on life and what I can push myself to do. MS has taught me to be thankful for what I have and that every day is a gift.
Life is full of hurdles, for everyone, and MS is one of my hurdles that won’t get in my way to living a healthy and fulfilling life. I want others to know that they can achieve great things and live a fulfilling life even with an MS diagnosis.
For more information on living with MS, visit the VA MS Centers of Excellence.