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How the outdoors has helped me throughout my journey with MS

"I have found music mixed with being outdoors to be incredibly healing for me during times of uncertainty with MS. Within the last year I also took up listening to guided meditations."

Chelsea outdoors

Receiving a diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) in 2015. The diagnosis came after suddenly experiencing the entire back of my right leg going numb, constantly tingling, and jolting (spasms). I immediately knew something was wrong as I had never had anything like this happen to me before. I quickly made a doctor’s appointment and began going through many medical tests that eventually lead me to an MRI which showed several lesions on my brain and spine. 

I will never forget the day my doctor called me with my initial MRI results, and said “you have multiple sclerosis.” I was of course devastated and worried thinking about the unknown and what this meant for my future as I was only 27 years old at the time. I was newly married and felt like my life was just about to really begin and then, boom! A life altering phone call I could have never expected.  

Living with MS

I knew in that moment my life was going to be changed forever. What I did not know was just how strong I was about to learn I was, and although I was going to have many challenging days ahead…I was still going to go on to experience many more joyous days ahead too.

MS brings so much unknown to many people’s lives. We never know when an MS “relapse” or “flare up” is going to happen and catch us completely off guard. When this does happen, it can really shake our lives up and everything can change in an instant.

One of my MS relapses left me immobile on the right side of my body for nearly 3 months, however I am happy to report after medicine, much physical and occupational therapy, and nourishing my body with the right foods and vitamins, the right side of my body now operates remarkably close to what it did before this relapse, and for that I am beyond grateful.  

Remaining positive

After being diagnosed and dealing with a few different MS relapses since, I knew I needed to find ways to keep a positive outlook on my future. I have found so much tranquility from nature and just being outdoors and I genuinely believe in natures healing benefits. I have found that even sitting outside for a few minutes and breathing in the fresh air truly calms me and helps ease any anxiety I may be feeling in that moment.

I also love the power of a walk or a bike ride on a nice day to help clear my mind. These types of things really help put my mind and body at ease. I also love to put my headphones on and be present in the moment and give thanks to be body for allowing me to do things like take a leisurely stroll or a bike ride.

Even if on my not so good days I can only walk down the street and back, sometimes that is all you need. I have found music mixed with being outdoors to be incredibly healing for me during times of uncertainty with MS. Within the last year I also took up listening to guided meditations. The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) website offers some great meditations that I love to sit on my deck and listen to or listen to first thing in the morning to start my day off with a calm and focused mind.  

Remaining thankful

Since being diagnosed I have been so thankful and lucky to have been able to still go on some amazing hikes at various National Parks around the United States. In the moment while on some of these hikes, my legs would tingle the whole way and I would think to myself “will I be able to finish,” but I would go at a pace comfortable for me and be so proud when I would reach the end or the top of the hike!

I think it is extremely important for anyone living with chronic illness to celebrate any and every personal victory, no matter how big or small, they all matter in the end and we must continue to celebrate what our bodies can do. 

While anyone living with MS will always have worries about how this disease will impact their life, I am here to tell you there is always hope.

I will never allow MS to take my hope away from me, even on my hardest days. I think trying to live with a positive outlook on life despite any adversity thrown my way really helps me at the end of the day. I am so glad I found the OMS website and Instagram account a few years ago.

I love how they offer healthy recipes to follow, guided meditations, blogs and podcasts that I can personally relate to. Finding other people who can really relate to what I am going through or what I have experienced in the past is not only comforting but also reminds me that I am never alone.  

RRMS Exercise meditation
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Sorleny Restrepo (not verified)

Hi Chelsea,
I enjoyed your story. I was was recently diagnosed with RRMS at 38. I am feeling better than ever so the diagnosis is frustrating. Any how, i would like to connect with you and just pick your brain about a few things. I tried to find you on instagram but could not find you. My instragram name is sorleny412.

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