Why I don’t hate rodeo riders and mountain climbers anymore

by Dawn Keegan

The summer of 2002 was a rough one. After waking up one day with a weak arm and numb from the waist down, my world changed. Within two weeks, I couldn’t use my left arm, was dragging both feet and bumping into walls. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – the same condition my grandmother had. My memories of her are in a wheelchair in a nursing home.

This was not good news.

I was very fortunate because I already had a great neurologist due to the fact that I had suffered with migraines from the time I was 10 years old. I went to him with my strange new symptoms, thinking I had a pinched nerve in my neck. He quickly ran tests, and within a week I had a diagnosis of a demyelinating disease. A round of steroids and a stack of medical literature kept me busy for the remaining weeks of the summer.

So many drugs to consider….so many decisions to make about running the household…so much to learn about a life-altering disease.

I noticed over and over again that many of the drug company ads had as their spokesperson an athlete of some sort, assuring me that if I took their drug, I too could climb mountains, or wrestle bulls, or win the gold medal in some event.

Really? I just wanted to be able to cut my own meat again, or button my shirt alone, or hold a cup of tea with one hand. I’m sure all of those people are lovely. But those ads made me angry! I hated those rodeo riders and mountain climbers! I had no desire to climb mountains or sing on stage or rope a calf! That wasn’t me, didn’t remotely address my life concerns, and made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I realize now that was an irrational response to a very well-meaning campaign. But I needed information that pertained to my life and my challenges. I understand that the ads were meant to inspire people to be their best – and if you were inspired to go further than ever before, that was a bonus.

I came to understand that I needed to be my own advocate, and started researching how to address my own concerns – balance, fatigue, overeating, and over-extending myself. I took baby steps and created a new life for myself.

I now live a more balanced life. I don’t hate the rodeo riders and mountain climbers anymore. They can have their exciting lives. I can cut my own meat and button my own shirt and hold a cup of tea. I’m just a regular person living a regular life with moments of excitement. As far as I’m concerned, that makes me a great success.

What makes you feel like a great success?

About the author:
Dawn Keegan was diagnosed in 2002 with RRMS. Dawn became certified as a Holistic Health Coach and an Intrinsic Coach, and works with the MS community to help others build a bridge from a life of chaos to a life of sanity, living in a balanced and dignified way. Dawn can be reached at (914) 588-5268 or at dawn@gainbalanceny.com. Visit her on the web: gainbalanceny.com.


About our Co-Founder: With a bachelors in Social Work, Linda is 53 years old, happily married with eight children and 17 grandchildren. Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and now having accepted and truly embraced her new reality, Linda has created MSrelief.com. She is dedicated to proving that joy can be chosen while living with Multiple Sclerosis. Linda specializes in helping others, especially those with MS attain the lifestyle, independence and happiness amid living with MS.

One Comment:

  1. I love this Dawn! I had the same thought when I was first diagnosed. In fact, prior to my diagnosis, the doctors had convinced me that all my weird symptoms were likely ‘in my head’. Oh the irony. So I tried to BECOME an athlete, having never been one before…the Danskin Sprint Triathalon…it did not go so well 🙂
    Working a full day, making it to my son’s lacrosse game, visiting my grandma, taking a vacation…and yes, holding a cup of tea, are all successes to me!

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