|The Walk A Myelin Our Shoes Foundation is proud to announce our first recipient Michele. Michele represents the epitome of the people our Foundation aims to help; despite Michele’s medical challenges she has persevered in life and hasbecome a stronger and more positive person. The one thing that Michele lacks is the finances to seek alternative treatments for her disease. This is where we can help. Please meet Michele:
In 2009, at age 32 Michele began to lose her vision, and went blind in her left eye. Naturally, Michele didn’t jump to the conclusion that she had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and instead thought it must have been connected to her recent laser eye surgery. However, visits to the optometrist and doctors quickly showed something much more serious. She was diagnosed with Optic Neuritis, a common precursor to MS. After a number of tests, it was confirmed, and Michele was formally diagnosed with MS. Subsequent treatments restored most of her vision and Michele maintained her positive attitude; not letting the diagnosis get her down. Standard MS medications were offered to her, in which included weekly injections, but through learning of all the side effects Michele was unsure about this route and instead decided to try managing the disease on her own through adapting a healthy lifestyle including yoga, health supplements and attention to nutrition.
Michele’s strategy appeared to be working, and in 2010 Michele and her boyfriend Don went to Japan to visit what Michele refers to as her Japanese family, as she had lived there 12 years ago and was excited to finally be returning for a long overdue visit. They trekked around the country for 3 weeks, and while there Don proposed to Michele! Making their trip even more exciting and special. Michele remembers saying to Don how she felt so fortunate to have the strength to trek around Japan, and share a part of her life that was so special to her with him, as she had been feeling progressively weaker in the weeks leading up to their trip.Upon their return, Michele and Don moved onto their next exciting new venture, planning their wedding! However in February 2011, Michele started to feel very fatigued and was struggling for the physical energy to get up and face the days. As always she tried to remain positive knowing it would help her overcome any potential obstacles, but on March 2, 2011 Michele began to feel a weakness and numbness in her legs. Within three days, Michele was hospitalised and was unable to walk or feel her legs. Essentially, Michele was paralysed from the chest down.
It was this relapse that shook Michele’s positive attitude. She felt at a loss as her ability to walk had been taken away and her independence lost. She spent her birthday in the hospital with friends, and made the best of the situation. Ever the fighter Michele, is working hard through pyhsio everyday to regain her ability to walk without aids, and combat her cognitive dysfunction, that she describes as trying to get to the next level on a video game “you know the course, but there are so many funny new little things that pop up out of nowhere in your way,” said Michele. She has found creative outlets that have kept her connected as well as allowed her to support others with MS, while she herself is still in her own healing process. She has joined the World Wide Good News, awebsite that she posts video blogs on that describe her experiences with MS and how one can cope and keep positive even with the illness. She was introduced to the WAMS Foundation and has been given another reason to believe that things can be even better for MS patients.
Michele is an active member of her community, working in a local community arts centre, volunteering for various organisations year round and always giving whenever she can. She is seen as someone who inspires and motivates others in both her professional and personal life. A lover of culture, music and the arts she has spent much of her time learning through working with people, and savouring the joys and riches that life brings through personal connections.
Michele has spent her life giving to others, and even though she is not physically able to give as she used to, she continues to give from within the confines this terrible disease has given her. She is a testament to the human spirit and inspiration to those who know her. And now, to all of us as well.