We’ve heard it before. Something happens – a near death experience, an illness, tragic accident, instant life changes or loss of a loved one that forces people to take a metamorphic journey. Without much conscious awareness, the natural life cycle begins to change you.
Medically, before my diagnosis, my body turned on me and began attacking itself. My symptoms were endless, many times debilitating and often requiring medical treatment. It took over 10 years to finally find the root cause: MS.
In order to get diagnosed with MS, I completed many assessments, including blood tests, a spinal tap and several MRIs. Finally, at age of 42, my tests came back conclusive and speckled throughout my spine and brain: lesions had made themselves a home.
The picture of the brain from a scan reminds me of the shape of a butterfly. We all know the life cycle of a butterfly, and for me, MS also has a way of isolating you into a cocoon, a chrysalis of sorts. Internally, there’s a physical, emotional and spiritual transformation eventually producing a rebirth, whether you like it or not!
I find great inspiration in the monarch butterfly, which has become my official symbol of multiple sclerosis. Emotionally, I connect with its bright and bold orange color. My soul and womanhood align with its regal authority and powerful notoriety. We share black and white spots – mine via illness, the butterfly’s, via nature. But it is the stage of transition where I find the deepest connection.
I don’t technically know who I’m becoming. There are periods of resilience and excitement. But I also have shifts in energy and sometimes, there’s depression and fear. What I do know is that I am being prepared for my repurposing.
I have hope for my future and for all of us battling this mostly invisible disease. May we emerge repurposed, rebranded and repositioned, and have the courage to spread our wings and fly.
Breaking the cycle of exclusion: Embracing cultural competence in physical activity research for people with MS
Cultural competence in research involves considering the culture and diversity of a population.
An MS diagnosis in college didn’t stop Téa from cheering for the NFL.