This is the final feature in VPR POP’s blog series to raise awareness about life with multiple sclerosis in honor of MS Awareness Month. We hope you feel more educated about multiple sclerosis, enjoyed our series and learned more about a few of the incredible MS Ambassadors.
Please revisit Lauren’s feature here, Joyce’s feature here, and Denny’s feature here to learn how they are living and thriving with multiple sclerosis. We will close the series by introducing you to MS Ambassador Steve K.
Please tell us a bit about yourself, Steve: I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life. The last 38 years I have spent living in Riverside, CA with my family. My wife, Leah, and I live with our little man, Brody (7). I have two other children, Jessie (26) and Steven (24). They both live in Illinois and each has given me a grandson.
How did you know you had Multiple Sclerosis?
Two years prior to my diagnosis, I was working in construction. During that time, in 1999, I fell and did some major damage to eight discs in my spine. I was taken off work completely. At the time, I didn’t realize that the dizziness that caused me to fall and other symptoms were from Multiple Sclerosis. From here, I had to try and deal with all the changes I was going through… vertigo, dropping things, and being off balance. I also went numb from my neck to my toes. Finally, in February of 2002, I went blind in my right eye.
Two good things came from going blind:
- The vertigo went away and 2. I finally could put a name on all the things I had been going through the previous two years. After getting an MRI that showed 122 lesions in my brain, the neurologist told me I had Relapsing Remitting MS, the most common type. I was officially diagnosed four days after my 35th birthday. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed that I could put a name on the cause of my fall and all of the crazy symptoms.
What is life like today with Multiple Sclerosis?
That was 13 years ago, but now my life couldn’t be better. I have a beautiful wife, who is the love of my life, and we have an awesome little boy together.
I’ve had to make some changes in my life to adjust for MS symptoms. I installed a handicap rail in the shower for balance. At one time, I thought I was the only person who could trip over a flat surface, but now I know that gait and balance issues are part of my life with MS. Because of numbness, I also had to give up playing guitar, which I had done for over 20 years. Thankfully, the summer before I lost that ability, I was able to teach my then 10-year-old son the basics and gave him my guitar. He is way better now than I ever was. I also moved into a single story apartment so I wouldn’t have to deal with stairs.
For me, MS is not an end all disease. Your life is not over because you are diagnosed with or have MS. My life only got better after my diagnosis. It’s tough, and I know it’s tougher on some than others, but you can live a meaningful life with MS.
That’s part of the message I share as an MS Ambassador. I want to support and encourage others with MS. I also want my family and others to see that just because I have this disease, doesn’t mean that life is over. There’s always hope!
Steve, Your story is truly incredible. You have overcome so many obstacles and have such a positive outlook on life. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.