Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Multiple Sclerosis Meets the Dragon!

Betty Gibson is a part of the new class of 2012 MSF Ambassadors. She is a veteran of our MSF Cruise for a Cause and she engages in many activities to help the MS community. She recently took part in riding on a Dragon Boat and it sounded like such a cool experience that we asked if she could write a little bit about it.

Multiple Sclerosis Meets the Dragon!

Hi!  I am Betty Gibson, and have had multiple sclerosis for over 30 years.  My main problem is that, ‘no I can’t do that’ just doesn’t fit my vocabulary.  When one of our neighbors in The Villages, Florida – our part-time home – invited me to ride on a Dragon Boat, of course I said yes.  Did I know what I was going to do?  No!

A Dragon Boat holds 20 paddlers who, with the steerer and cadence counter, work very hard to keep the narrow, canoe-like boat level and smooth in the water.  At the same time, racing speed is the norm.  The regular teams exercise strenuously and practice often.  Push ups?  They do that.  Sit ups?  Easy…for them!  Needless to say, this was not something for me.  However, I did it!  (No, not the exercises!) 

The team I joined for a morning workout just returned from competition in Hong Kong. Yes, they are that good.  I did paddle, most of the time.  However, the racing power-starts unseated me.  Hold on, or you will be sitting on the lap of the person behind you! 

Would I do it again?  Of course!  Multiple sclerosis may be a part of my body, but it is not and will not be a ruling factor in my mind.  Go, Dragon Boat!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Six Questions with Angela Gorzelsky

Introducing you to another wonderful MSF Ambassador. Diagnosed with MS in 2003, Angela Gorzelsky is a mother, manager of a credit bureau, and an owner of a vending company from Johnstown, Penn. She enjoys walking her dog, practicing yoga and working out, listening to music, and spending time with her grandson. Her greatest joy comes from all the volunteer work she does for MS as a fundraiser and advocate. 

1. How has MS changed your life?
Having MS has changed my life in several ways. It has definitely caused me to have to slow down and do things differently in my everyday life. I can't just go and go anymore the way I used to due to the fatigue. Sometimes I need help with simple tasks like carrying a laundry basket upstairs, putting on a necklace and buttoning my shirt. I love the sun and the beach, but my heat intolerance has sure made those trips a lot different. I used to grab my beach towel and head down to the sand and lay out in the sun for hours. Now, I find the first chair with an umbrella and I have to take breaks every so often and find some air conditioning! On a more positive note, I have become more involved with volunteering and helping others that are affected by MS. I have made a lot of great new MS friends from all over the world. I also see life differently because having MS means you're never sure what the next day will bring for you, so I basically live one day at a time and do whatever I can do that day to be happy.

2. What is the most important thing you’ve learned since your diagnosis?
I have always been very independent, so for me the most important thing I have learned is that it is OK to ask for help when I need it. I no longer feel bad or like a burden when I have to ask for help with something.

3. How have you found support?
I have found support in local support groups and being friends with others who have MS. Also, I volunteer a lot for the MSF and my local MS Society Chapter. I am on the Government Relations Committee and attend the Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C. every year where I have met so many wonderful people with MS. I consider all of these things to be my support system.

4. What is the best coping tip you've picked up?
To make sure you take time out for yourself to relax and rest. Don't feel bad if you can't go with friends all the time. Conserve your energy so that you can do the things that are important to you and that you enjoy!

5. What is your favorite MS- or health-related website?
I don't know if I have a favorite because there are really so many good ones out there! I like MS Forum and also www.msconnection.org.  Anywhere you can meet new MS friends and talk about your MS, MS related issues, and treatments is a great website for me!

6. This is the bonus question! What question would you like to ask our readers?
Hmmm, well let's see... Okay, here's one for you... How do you react when you meet someone with MS or someone you know tells you they have been diagnosed with MS? Do you treat them differently because they have MS?
Your answer? Why would you treat them any different? People with MS are still the same people except now they have a chronic illness to deal with. MS isn't contagious, so don't treat us like it is! Most people with MS continue to lead full, productive lives. So don't shy away from us or stop asking us to go places and do things. Support us when we need it and continue to treat us with the same love and respect as before you found out we had MS!