Brent is 69 years old and was diagnosed with MS in 2003.
What were the first symptoms you noticed?
I started noticing that I couldn’t do the things that I used to be able to do. I couldn’t walk as far as I used to. I thought I was getting older, but it was MS. And I could feel pain and cramping in my muscles in my back and my arms that I wasn’t feeling before. I didn’t know what it was. I knew things were going on inside me that weren’t right, but I didn’t know what it was.
What have been some of the most significant challenges you’ve faced?
I didn’t have any control of the muscles in my legs, arms, and hands. Being able to control the things in your body. I couldn’t control the things going on in my body. If I move my leg or my foot, I must look where I want to place it. Before, it was just a reaction. I very much need to concentrate to hold a cup and to eat. It’s very challenging.
What is something you’ve learned while living with MS?
Finally understanding why I couldn’t do the things I used to do. I’ve learned patience and awareness of things that I didn’t feel like I had to be aware of before. I’ve spent time learning to live with it and learning to accept MS.
Accepting the things that come has given me a little more ability live with it and deal with it. I try to do things that my body will let me do.
What is your favorite MS coping mechanism?
Coming to KADEP (King Adult Day Enrichment Program), being able to use my hands, and concentrate on things that they help me with. It’s a blessing to come to KADEP and I can feel the love. I may have MS, but I have friends that understand. That’s something that I don’t have to worry about. Every now and then, something will happen that reminds me about MS. I just try to do things that I know that I can do.
I love to write, paint, color, and take photographs. I didn’t know colors could do so much for you. I like putting colors into things and creating designs with color. I also love to take pictures. Those creative outlets are helpful for me. I find beauty in things that I didn’t find before.
How has your perspective of MS changed over time?
MS puts you through a lot – I have a whole new life and I’m a new person. I don’t know if it’s the MS or if it’s just life that has gotten me to see the world differently than I did before. It’s amazing to see things in a different way. I know I saw things before my diagnosis, but I didn’t appreciate them. Now I really do. I find beauty in the little things that I know I saw before but didn’t see the beauty in them. MS makes you think about things differently. It makes you feel things you’ve never felt before – in good ways and bad ways. It’s nice to see things with new appreciation.
What does your support system look like?
The biggest thing part of my support system is coming to KADEP. It helps me in every way possible. It’s a place where I have friends and can count on them. It’s a place where I can go that allows me to be free of it all. It helps a lot.
What gives you hope?
Waking up every morning. You have a new day ahead of you each day. And when I see something that may be different or new to me — that’s hope for me. I look for things like that. When I get to see them, it makes such a difference. You just do things that you’re able to do and acceptance gives me hope.