Imagine a world where those of us with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can do everything that everyone else can do. Now imagine a world where we can achieve more than those who don’t have MS. For a growing number of people with MS, including Carol Pal, this is their world.
Carol was diagnosed in 2003 after several years of mystery symptoms and a battery of bizarre tests. Here symptoms first presented themselves in the mid 90s with no pattern or relationship from one attack to the next. Some days she would hear loud ringing in her ears, other times she would feel tired, dizzy or nauseous and on other days her legs would go numb.
One of Carol’s most challenging symptoms was the change she experienced with cognition. She had been a long time employee at a local credit union and found it difficult to understand how to perform what she had always known as simple tasks. She feared her mind was slipping away.
It took a bad fall from her bike and a severe shoulder injury requiring surgery before Carol finally received a diagnosis. Luckily in a pre-op visit with a new GP she was referred to a Neurologist. The Neurologist knew it was MS immediately.
Unfamiliar with the disease, Carol opted for the traditional route and began taking medication to manage her MS. She spent 2 and a half years using drug therapy and found herself in a downward spiral. Her cognitive, physical, and social abilities declined, she often slept 18 hours a day and couldn’t walk more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
After her marriage ended suddenly she decided to radically change her life. Carol reduced the amount of sugar, red meat, wheat and dairy she ate moving towards a raw food diet. She went back to the gym and with the help of a personal trainer began regaining her strength.
In 2007 Carol was invited to join the MS Warriors Dragon Boat team. She embraced the idea and began paddling with a group of 20 other people impacted by MS. She spent the next two years paddling 2 to 3 times a week and continued to improve her fitness level.
In 2010 Carol’s coach Roman invited her to join the Gorging Dragons, a local club training to head to a Canadian National dragon boat festival. Carol, who was suffering from another shoulder injury, was invited to drum for the team. She continued to grow stronger and is currently the 3rd fastest woman on the team. Her goal this season is to paddle with the team rather than drum.
Carol credits her success to the people around her. Her eyes light up when she speaks of the MS Warriors and the time she spent with the team. She credits them with helping her remain positive, develop a stable fitness base, learn how to work as part of a team, and most importantly how to take care of her body.
Carol has used what she learned with the Warriors to help her with the Gorging Dragons. She continues to surround herself with positive people and has recently learned that sometimes you hurt because you worked really hard, not because you have MS. And she has learned that both those with and without MS are capable of looking beyond the disability.
Paddles up to you Carol Pal and a great big thank you for blazing your way to good health and showing others what is possible.
Have an inspiring story about someone you know. I encourage you to contact me so we can share it with others.