In 2006 my life took a dramatic turn. I slowly started to lose feeling on the left side of my body. It started from my foot and within 3 days it went all the way up to my chest. It was then that I finally went to the University of Alberta hospital where I was given a battery of tests which included several spinal taps and MRI’s. I was then diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
This was such a shock for me and my family!! MS??? Was I going to need a cane at the age of 21? Even worse – a wheelchair???? That’s all I knew about MS.
After working with my neurologist I was diagnosed with Relapse Remitting MS, which means my body flare ups or attacks come and go. He gave me a lot of information which basically went in one ear and out the other. At the same time I was diagnosed, I received my degree in criminal justice. My dream had been to join the Edmonton Police Service. At the time, EPS had very few East Indian women on the force and I wanted to be there to help since I could speak fluent English and Punjabi. Obviously now, that wasn’t going to happen. My dreams were shattered.
As time went on, I was able to manage my MS, with only a few minor attacks that lasted a few days. I was optimistic that this would not hinder my quality of life. Through the next few years I would travel to India, as our family had built a tennis academy in a village for unprivileged kids to train for free to help acquire the skills needed for employment, scholarships or maybe even to become professional tennis players. They were given clothing, food, training, education and I found the love and bond that I developed with these children whose families literally made $1 a day, made me realize that I should be grateful for what I had.
In November 2017, I had another attack however. This wasn’t just the regular attack I’d had many times before. It didn’t go away, I wasn’t getting better…..actually I was getting worse. My nightmare had finally come true, as I had to use a cane, and I had to place a disability placard in my vehicle as both legs were unstable due to lack of muscle control.
After my neurologist received my news, there was only one word I can remember them saying – “WHEELCHAIR”. I gave myself one week to feel sorry for myself, lie in bed, and sob. But I looked at my little girls and realized I’m was not going to let this disease take over my life. After receiving a brand new drug which involved an 8 hour infusion, I started to feel better. There was no guarantee, but mentally I knew when I was better I was going to be stronger, fitter and healthier than ever.
I researched everything to learn how to use certain foods to repair the lesions in my brain and to took up sports like boxing to help with my reflexes.
In Dec 2018 a new set of tests were done. In one year I had lost 40 pounds but it wasn’t the weight that was a concern for me. I was mentally, emotionally and physically stronger than I had ever been. Acquaintances became true friends whose positivity, encouragement, love, compassion and support helped me every step of the way. The YEG Fitness community was there for me, and I will forever be grateful to this group.
“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one who has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up”- Mary Halliway
By Simmy Saran
Photo by Viet Nguyen