Riding Through Life with RMS
- by Laura K.
- September 16, 2019
Laura K. is a paid advocate for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
We all had dreams when we were kids and talked about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had this discussion many times with my best friend when we were riding our ponies. I was going to be a rodeo star. I was going to find that magic horse and travel the rodeo circuit making my living as a barrel racer. Flash forward, I was living the life I was supposed to be living – working full time, riding horses on the weekends and racing at the local horse shows and jackpots. No one ever understood my passion (or obsession) for horses: I just need them to be a part of my life.
For several years, I had been seeing a chiropractor for numbness and tingling in my hands and legs. Deep down I knew something serious was going on, but I never discussed this with anyone – not even my husband. Usually after a few adjustments, everything was fine. One day in 1991, it was not fine. My balance was off and I had no strength or feeling in my legs. I thought it was my imagination so I went to my barrel racing show anyway. I remember being very hurt when people assumed I was drunk because of my invisible symptoms.
The next day, the chiropractor referred me to a neurologist. Two weeks later, an MRI confirmed I had relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS). The doctor suggested I go home and adjust to my new life. I sure did not see that coming. This diagnosis was devastasting for both my family and me because I hadn’t been honest with them. First lesson learned: be honest.
My husband and I were about to build a house, so the first thing we did was change the floor plan to make our home RMS-friendly. Moving on was tough. I didn’t want my life to change and there were so many things I wanted to do. I had no room for RMS, so I tried to ignore it. I tried to be the strong one and pretend nothing would change. I pushed harder and did more, thinking I had time, and by doing so the relapses became more frequent and more severe.
A snowmobile trip in January 1992 brought on the worst relapse I've ever had. I wanted to recover, so once I found that physical therapy could help, I asked my doctor to make a referral. It was so hard to admit something was wrong but it made me feel so good that I was doing something about it – that I was taking some control back.
I entered my 30s as a single woman who decided to live my life as I wanted. My horses became the center of my life, even as I struggled to make ends meet. There came a point when I needed to change jobs to make more money, which meant being honest and telling my employer I had RMS.
In 1997, I finally met my magic horse. There was something special about the five-year-old palomino and we fell in love immediately. All my dreams I had as a kid growing up came true with my new horse, D. L. Nernie. I had to sell my truck to get him, but he has exceeded all my dreams and expectations! He helped me place in several national and local competitions throughout the years.
In 2000, I crossed paths with Kelvin. At first glance, he made my heart skip a beat. Fast forward to 2004 and we were married. I found my true partner.
I am now 52 years old and as I look back, I consider myself a very lucky individual. With RMS, I have learned to take care of myself. I have learned to appreciate others and to share with them. I’ve also learned to appreciate life’s moments, big and small. Though my choices and path were not spelled out for me, I tried to make the choices that worked for me and in the end, have no regrets. Wow! Life’s been good!
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COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.