Expressing Gratitude to Cope with Stress, Build Relationships, and Help Myself

By Stacie Prada

It’s the morning of my MRI scan and neurologist appointments. Leading up to them, I’ve anticipated needing to seek support and to allow myself time to process whatever I learn today. I tell myself that test results don’t change how I’m doing. They just give me more information to consider.

MRI stressThe rub is that I anticipate being sad with any possibility today. I feel worse than I did earlier this year. Eight months ago, I learned Continue reading

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Deciding What I’ll Do and How Much I’ll Do for My Best Health

By Stacie Prada

In true keeping with not quickly remembering the lessons I’ve already learned, it took me a few months of building frustration before seeing a situation I’m experiencing as something I could approach differently.

I volunteer for our local self-help group, and increasing work and personal health demands are making it harder for me to continue doing everything I’ve done for the past six years. I’d asked for volunteers to help. Some stepped forward and I appreciated their help, but still I felt responsible for more than I can continue.

I was getting frustrated, and resentment was building. I was getting Continue reading

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My MS Number: We Became Experts at Adapting to Change Before We Knew We Had MS

By Stacie Prada

I’ve started thinking it should be the standard to have our time with multiple sclerosis described with two numbers. It would be similar to blood pressure readings where two numbers have meaning on their own but give a fuller picture of a person’s health when described together. Our time living with MS could be described as the number of years since we were diagnosed over the number of years we estimate we’ve been living with MS.

My MS Number: Adapting with Multiple SclerosisFor me, I was diagnosed Continue reading

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The Value of Doing Nothing: Same Thing, Different Feel

By Stacie Prada

It’s interesting to me that the same task can feel stressful sometimes and relaxing others. It really shows that it’s not about what I’m doing, rather it’s how I feel when I’m anticipating or doing it. It’s how I judge the task in the moment.

Needing to cook dinner after a long workday may feel like one more burdensome thing that needs to be done, while spending hours in the kitchen baking or creating a new dish on a weekend might be a therapeutic activity resembling meditation for the focus and relaxation I feel.

The same can be true for Continue reading

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For the Love of Biking – It Really Can Be for Everyone

By Stacie Prada

In a conversation with coworkers years ago, one person reflected on his summers spent in their backyard pool in California.  I responded with excitement and jealousy that he had his own pool when all I had was a bike!  Another coworker who grew up in Hong Kong, exclaimed with awe, “You had a bike?!?”

Wow.  I laughed at my own ignorance to my privilege.  To think she grew up in a large city and didn’t have a bike at all made me realize just how special it was Continue reading

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Music Gets Me Through: Shaping My Outlook with Intention

By Stacie Prada

The artistry of words inspires me greatly. The ability to express ideas and emotions critically with nuance and creativity moves me to feel deeply. Add rhythm and melody to the poetry of song lyrics, and it becomes something I can use for managing my well-being.

Music is especially useful for coping with any challenge, because it has the ability to replace the thoughts going through my head. If I can recognize when looping thoughts are taking over my mind and mood, I can change my attitude and outlook with music.

Artistry that speaks to me changes Continue reading

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My Mother’s Lasting Influence

By Stacie Prada

As a young child wrapped in my mother’s arms, I’d hear her ask me, “What am I going to do with you?”

I’d answer in tempo with the script we’d created, “Hug me, and kiss me, and love me forever.” She’d squeeze me harder while kissing the top of my head, and I knew she would.

She died suddenly at the age of 47, and she never knew I had multiple sclerosis. This was 15 years before I was diagnosed with MS, yet she’s been a constant companion as I’ve navigated my life in general and the challenges I face living with MS.

Throughout the past 25 years, Continue reading

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Getting Organized and Staying Organized: It’s a Lifesaver When Living with a Chronic Illness

By Stacie Prada

I love being organized. I love containers and labels. I love having my finances organized and being able to find paperwork when needed. It brings me a sense of peace to plan things, be prepared and know what to expect. When everything has a place and is put away, it brings me joy. Living with a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis can be the exact opposite of that. It’s unpredictable, it disrupts plans, it can be invisible, and often it doesn’t have a logical reason behind the symptoms it brings. It can be manageable, but it’s not curable. Unlike my belongings, it can’t be fixed and controlled.

I know not everyone Continue reading

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The People Who Surround Me: Those I Keep and Seek

By Stacie Prada

As I age, I’m getting more intentional about who I spend time with and how I shape interactions. We can’t always completely avoid people who drain us, but we can shift how we approach our interactions. We can’t always spend enough time with the people we love, but we can shape our relationships to maximize our joy and connection. A lot of our daily lives involve acquaintances who with a small amount of attention can become friends. Our friends and family won’t always have the skills or perspective to meet our needs, but we can find circles of friends who will fill the gaps.

People who drain me: If I can Continue reading

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Dating and MS: Loving and Risking Heartache

By Stacie Prada

I used to feel such relief that I was married and didn’t need to be out in the dating world. It sounded horrible, and I enjoyed having my relationship set with the expectation there’d be no divorce. Then I started having health issues and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after 15 years of marriage.

When a married person is diagnosed with MS, the rate of divorce is about the same as the general population, but the gender disparity is enormous. A study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center1 found that Continue reading

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