I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul

I found something I wrote in 2010 that was also posted on Montel Williams’ MS Diary page and thought I would share it here as well.  I had mixed emotions while reading it, but mainly a deep desire to find the strength I had at the time I wrote the summary of my symptoms and personal circumstances when I was first diagnosed.  I haven’t given up hope by any means, but the fatigue I’m currently experiencing makes it difficult to regain the fight I know is still within me.

“I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul” – written December 24, 2010

The title of this note is from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley.  I fell in love with that poem a long time ago, especially those lines, because I believe that all of us have the ability to achieve our goals.

I am 36 years old and I was diagnosed with MS this past November, but let me rewind a few years.  In 2006 I took a leap of faith and quit my job of almost 13 years at a local police department where I was a Communications Supervisor to move from Florida to Texas to attend law school full time.   During the time I worked at the police department I was raising my son as a single parent and taking classes part time to get my AA degree, and then went on full time for my BA.  In 2006 my son was 12, and although leaving a stable job for the unknown was stressful and scary, becoming an attorney was my lifelong dream and I was determined to make it work because I realized at the time, and still believe, that you have one life to live, so live it to the fullest.

Law school takes 3 years to complete, and after completing my 1st year I transferred to a school in Jacksonville, Florida to finish up my last 2 years.  During law school there were times when I was exhausted and felt overwhelmed and “out of it”, but thought it was just stress.

During the summer of 2008 I was interning at a Legal Aid office.  I have always felt passionate about helping the “less fortunate” because I can relate to having personal hardships and know how much it means to have someone that actually cares take the time to help.  During this summer, I started experiencing strange symptoms.  I felt dizzy and off balance.  My vision was blurry and eventually became double.  I was exhausted and it was even more difficult than normal to focus and concentrate.   I didn’t have health insurance, but I researched my symptoms and I was actually afraid at the time I might have MS. I was terrified, to say the least.   I went to a walk in clinic when my symptoms didn’t go away after a couple of weeks and they said the testing for MS was expensive, and it might just be stress.  Within a couple of weeks my symptoms started getting better and I finished up my internship and then went back to law school to complete my last year.

Right before graduating I became worried about the Bar exam and thought I might have ADD because of my focus issues.  I even remember worrying that the same symptoms that I had the summer of 2008 would return while trying to study for the bar during the summer I was studying for and taking the bar in 2009.  Studying for vast amount of material the bar exam was difficult, but I somehow managed to pass the Florida Bar exam the first time around (Hillary Clinton and JFK can’t say the same!!).  I now work in a small civil law firm handling primarily foreclosure defense cases.

In October 2010 I was in a minor car accident and had a little neck pain, then a week or so  later noticed my right arm, thumb and index finger were all numb.  I thought I had a pinched nerve, and had just received health insurance through work a week or two prior to this happening.  I found out about a week later that I didn’t have a pinched nerve, I had lesions on my cervical spine.  A follow up MRI with contrast confirmed that I have one larger non active lesion and 2 newer active lesions.  I was devastated when I received the news, but finally that episode from 2008 and other symptoms I was experiencing throughout the years all made sense.  The first day I cried and felt numb.  After that I realized that the only thing I can control about having MS is my attitude and outlook.  I have worked hard to try and become a positive person, and I will not *allow* MS to take that from me.

This past month is mostly a blur after another episode hit me hard, but I didn’t miss a day of work.  Despite some cognitive issues, vision and balance problems, and Bells Palsy that set in on the right side of my face, I still managed to be able to think on my (wobbly) feet during 2 mediation’s and discovered vital errors made by the Plaintiffs that allowed me to submit Motions to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s complaints and ask for sanctions against them for my clients.  That made me feel so much better considering one of the main concerns I have had is being unable to function in  the profession I worked so hard to achieve. Thankfully, almost 2 weeks ago the “fog” lifted and my symptoms are getting better.

I am not sharing this because I think it makes me more special than anyone who might be reading this.  I am sharing because I know first hand that if you set your mind on a goal, you CAN reach it despite the obstacles you may have to overcome to achieve that goal.  My journey to becoming an attorney was long and not always easy, but it was completely worth every risk I took, and every bit of hard work I put in to it.


2 thoughts on “I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul

  1. “If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.” – Monty Python

    We’re all individuals when it comes to that diagnosis hitting us, I just laughed. The doctor looked at me as if I was crazy, with a stone face and questioned me if I knew the severity of what she was telling me, and I told her that yes, yes I do understand that I have a chronic illness that cannot be cured, I will have it for as long as I live and there’s little to nothing that I can do about it, so why should I stress or feel bad about it? I’ll laugh it off, it won’t change me or who I am, I am still the same man I was 5 min ago before you told me I had MS! Whatever comes will come, and I’d rather face it with a smile than a frown. You should smile with me, it’s not the end of the world!

    This of course was received with more confused stares from the doctor, but that’s okay.

    You take care of yourself, it’s inspirational you’ve managed to advance and make something of your life even with this disease hitting you harder than it has hit me. I was only diagnosed 3 months ago and it’s still all new and exciting for me, but I’ve had the symptoms for ages. My first stroke of blindness in my left eye I had … 7 years ago, at the age of 20. Never really thought much about it since at the time my eye doctor told me that it will go away on its own (what a quack, didn’t even send me to an MRI).

    Enough about that though, you mentioned to me in a comment that you’re not taking any medications, I do have a suggestion and if you heed it, it might help you and if not, it cannot hurt you. You’re a lawyer, smart and keen to details. I’d suggest looking up MS studies done on vitamin D3. After which, I’d suggest starting to take 9000-10000 IU of it daily and seeing what kind of results it will have on you.

    MS meds are expensive and most of them have some fairly nasty side-effects, but that simple vitamin you’d generate from sunlight has zero negative side-effects and it is very, very inexpensive.

    That’s what I take daily at least, and so far it has improved my life as far as concentration and even those pins and needles feelings in my leg are concerned – also, no attack phases of optic neuritis yet *knocks on wood*

    There are people offering all kinds of help for people with MS and I must admit, I’d be skeptical towards most of them and as such I won’t sell that to you more than this, I’ll just encourage you to look it up for yourself and make your own mind about it 🙂

    Keep on smiling! Life’s better that way!

  2. Thank you for a brave and honest report of how MS attacked you and how you are dealing with it. You have my prayers and my support. I have several friends who suffer from and/or have died of MS or ALS (A nurological disease similar in some ways to MS). Personally, I would like to see treatments or cures for all of these similar nurological diseases. We need to support research.

    Please see my web site (ReynoldConger.com) for information about how people can support the publication of an e-book that will help publicize the MS-150 bike rides that raise millions of dollars for MS research.

    I would appreciate anyone who is willing to nominate my book for pubication.

    Thank you,
    Reynold Conger

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