By Emily Gordon
I remember the day like it was yesterday. September 24, 2012. I remember the smell of the room. I remember what the ring of the phone sounded like when I got the call in the MRI waiting room. I was 22 years old. I had just graduated from college. I was working at an NBC affiliate news station, living out my dream of being a sports reporter. It was all happening for me, or so I thought.
It turns out that a lot was happening in my brain and spine as well. It was a crisp fall day, and my favorite day of the week: Football Friday! I had been assigned to cover three high school football games that night. It was my very first game of the season. I was confident in my scripts; live camera hit and tag out. The live camera hit came and I looked up at the scoreboard to recite the score, then turned back to the camera and forgot what I had just looked at, a second ago. Luckily, I recovered from that fumble (ha) and recovered fine throughout the rest of the night. However, that slight hiccup had my mind racing. Why did that happen? Is this normal? Am I sick? The intrusive thoughts would not stop coming.
After a month of not remembering things as simple as my name, birthdate, and address, I knew something was wrong. I called my mom (who also has MS) for help and advice. It was exactly two seconds into our conversation, before she said, “you’re going to the ER immediately.” After 6 hours of waiting, and one LONG MRI, the phone rang, and it was my neurologist. He said “it looks like there are lesions in your brain and spine. You have MS.” I immediately started crying. The emotions for both me and my parents were too much to comprehend. It was in that exact moment after I hung up on the phone that I promised myself that I would not let this diagnosis take over my life.
The next couple of months were tough. The diagnosis was still new. People treated me differently. But one thing remained the same: I was still me, just now with a few more limitations. I could not always go out when my friends did. I needed a good amount of rest. I needed to make changes and it made me enjoy the small things. A good cup of coffee, celebrating birthdays, holidays, or even just having a “good day” was something to rejoice in. I was more present. I did not rush as much. I spent quality time with those that mattered to me, and genuinely enjoyed them. I slowed down in every aspect of my life. I quite literally stopped to smell the roses.
I carried this philosophy with me during my decade-long journey with MS. I now have a beautiful baby girl who I always slow down and appreciate life with. A life-altering diagnosis can bring your life to a screeching halt, but it can also give you a fresh perspective on your life and how you live it. Slow down and learn to appreciate it. Once you do, you will notice that the little moments are that much sweeter.