Well folks, October 2016 has officially been one of the hardest months of my life. As I recently shared with you, I was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with myelitis and spent several days in the hospital at the beginning of this month. At the peak of the myelitis, I could not feel my body from my clavicles down (with the exception of my left arm and hand, which, for unknown reasons, never got very numb). Since that time, I have experienced dramatic physical improvement in certain areas of my body, while other areas remain numb and/or tingly. Specifically, my right hand remains profoundly numb. However, all of my motor functioning remains intact, and I can again feel my feet, legs, pelvis, and abdomen.

On Thursday, October 20th, I visited a specialist at Penn Neurology, and he assigned to me the diagnosis that I so desperately feared – Multiple Sclerosis, or MS. The type of MS that I have is called relapsing remitting, meaning that exacerbations of the disease, or relapses, come and go. If you are curious, you can read more about the disease here.

Even before I was diagnosed on the 20th, I started taking Vitamin D and fish oil, and I reluctantly began modifying my diet, largely cutting out sugar, dairy, gluten, and a host of other potentially inflammatory foods. I am currently following a modified paleo diet, and I am learning as I go. In fact, Saturday night I prepared my first paleo meal from scratch, start to finish. Because I delight in food and all things related to the table, changing my way of eating and cooking is a huge lifestyle change in and of itself. I hope to share my new recipes and techniques with you in the coming months. For now, however, I am learning…slowly but surely.

But beyond the diet changes, physical symptoms, doctor visits, future MRIs, and the MS drug that I will now inject myself with three times a week, the events of this month have left me emotionally shaken, and mentally overwhelmed. And in some ways, I am grieving.

I am grieving the life that I thought I had.

I have no medical history of which to speak. I have always been healthy, and with the exception of overscheduling my way into periods of physical exhaustion, I have taken care of my body. I teach exercise classes and I eat whole foods. I wasn’t supposed to end up with a chronic disease, for which there is no known cure.

But here I am. MS is my new reality, and I don’t understand why.

However, during this awful October, I have experienced God’s love in powerful and tangible ways – ways that I’ve never experienced before – ways that I will share with you in the days and weeks to come. I desire to share my experiences with you because even in the midst of my suffering, I know that God is good. He is sovereign over all things, including my MS diagnosis, and I trust Him. I may not understand His plans for me, but He is my strength, and my hope is in Him.

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Photography by Lindsey Calabretta Clark.