Women of WAMS features inspiring women and their thoughts on networking, finding work/life balance, mentoring, and the importance of ending MS with the WAMS program.
Our first installment is with Ashley Dean, a mother of two, who lives with MS in the Lower Mainland.
When were you diagnosed with MS?
I got my official was diagnosis October 2011. My first relapse was March 11, 2011.
What symptoms led to your diagnosis?
I lost my peripheral vision, difficulties with balance, extreme headaches like I’ve never experienced and numbness in legs making it difficult to walk.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I set my alarm 15 mins earlier than my normal alarm so that the numbness goes away enough to know if I can walk or not. Get my two girls 5 and 3 ready for school and daycare and drop them off. Come home and rest. Then I try a light exercise. Rest again. Then do one household chore, then rest again. Pick up the girls from school and daycare and get the evening routine going (dinner, baths and bedtime). Then in bed myself by 9ish and up all night with bladder urgency.
What has been your experience with the MS Society since your diagnosis?
The MS society has been great and always there to help when I need it. I appreciate that they are always there for me. I was involved with the MS Walk for four years and was able to raise over ten thousand dollars. I have also attended WAMS breakfast and I really enjoyed it.
Who has been your biggest support?
I would say I don’t have just one. My biggest supporters would be my MS Nurses at the Burnaby MS Clinic, my mom and my husband. I think it’s important to have support from people who understand the disease, have people who are there to listen and have people who live with it with you. No one can really know what your going through and what pain you face, but having people who know the disease or hear about it and lastly watch you go through it are everything to managing it. The disease is just part of it, you also are forced to change your lifestyle, actually listen to your body and try not to get sucked into a hole of depression.
What have you learned about yourself since finding out you have MS?
I have learned that people judge what they don’t understand and to have thicker skin. That there’s more to life than working; health and family should always come first. Finally that I am stronger than I thought.
What advice do you have for young women starting out their careers and family who are diagnosed with MS?
My advice is be as active as possible. Don’t give up vices, we are human after all. Stop worrying about what people think especially if you’ve chosen the path like me where my family and health is my job and priority. Remember there will be really bad day so always enjoy the good ones and cherish them