I knew I had a severe condition when I started to care about healthcare insurance over five-inch or higher heel sales. I’ve never been one to care about health insurance; my thoughts were “it’s there, I’m covered, whatever." Being called into a doctor’s office in August of 2017 and being told I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that is dismantling my central nervous system scared the hell out of me. Through this journey, I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far:
1. I could not continue to live with this disease without paying attention to healthcare policies for persons with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. I now see the importance for me and all of us to be aware of old and new processes to these forsaken healthcare guidelines—one wrong move and we’re all screwed;
2. I am not alone. An estimated 2.5 million people in the world alone have MS, and even better I have come to accept the fantastic support of my family, new and old friends, and do you want to know what’s even more liberating? Seeing and knowing of other women who suffer like me, but continue to blaze their trails to successfully thriving with a chronic disease; and
3. I ain’t go time for this shit, Big Sean voice.
I graduated from Florida A&M University (FAMU) in the spring of 2015, and as of a couple of weeks ago, I found pride in "Ashley the Workhorse” I’ve been that as long as I can remember. In my vestal career, I have run a racially charged political campaign, suffocated myself in endless projects, and as a result, lost my passion and focus, resulting in a mental, physical and emotional check out for all of 2017.
In a mix of emotions, I see now my diagnosis of MS humbled me. I have small to medium lesions on my brain and massive lesions on my spine causing miscommunication, and a gratitude for life like you can't believe. Until you have symptoms that keep you up for 127 hours (five days) and some two odd minutes, you cherish sleep, a sane mind and eight hours I may never see again.
Nine months later, I believe I am at the “reconstruction and working through phase" of the grief scale. I promised myself after my pity party…of seven months…yes, sip the tea; I vowed not to let this disease control me. Today, on World MS Day I pledge to help improve the education and awareness because we will find a cure to end MS.