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by Connie Hicklen

Last week during Christmas, Brewer said to me, “Mom, I want you to write a blog for me to share on my website. You have a unique, roller coaster life story and people need to hear it.” I immediately thought to myself, “Oh goodness, I don’t know what to say.”  The longer I waited, the more I felt compelled to write.

So here we are… what do you do when life just doesn’t make sense?

I was diagnosed with MS 16 years ago, the week before Thanksgiving. After being tested and poked by needles for months, I finally faced one of the biggest challenges in my life: How can I be thankful when I was just diagnosed with a life-altering disease?

As soon as I was diagnosed, I made the choice that this disease would not define me… even though I didn’t really know how I would do this. The thought “I will not be defined by this” kept ringing in my head, knowing only a miracle can make this happen. Over and over, I reminded myself of this.

Once I felt my perspective change, for the first time in my life I began to see the pain behind people’s mask. I started to have opportunities to comfort others and walk beside friends as they experienced struggles.

After 3 medications had failed in the last 16 years of MS treatments, I qualified for a new treatment that requires 2 weeklong treatments… 1 last year and 1 this year. In this treatment, my immune system is destroyed and I become vulnerable to catch viral or bacterial infections. With me being vulnerable, I was left home alone most days while recovering.

Last year after my first round, I began to go crazy behind the closed doors in my house. I felt isolated, alone, and began to start feeling depressed. I originally thought I would just paint… but there was no inspiration there. I had no desire to do anything. It took quite some time for me to feel normal and feel more like the person I knew.