Ardra Shephard, Multiple Sclerosis/Mobility Aids
How would you explain mobility aids to a child?
Kids are naturally curious and I sometimes get asked 'what is that' or 'why are you using that' when I'm using a mobility aid. I love a straightforward answer: it helps me walk! My advice is more for parents who can sometimes inadvertently condition kids to feel uncomfortable around people with disabilities. Just act normal! Don't be weird!
What would you want the world to know about MS?
It's impossible for any of us to be fully informed about the endless list of struggles we all encounter. The best way to mitigate our collective ignorance is to lead with kindness, give people the benefit of the doubt. You never know what someone is going through.
What does it feel like to live with MS?
MS is unpredictable. Living well with MS means getting good at finding different ways to do things and letting go of feelings of guilt or guilt-adjacent emotions when I have to change or cancel plans or when I straight-up can't do something. MS is a chronic progressive disease, which means I'm periodically coping with a new loss of function. So, even after 20 years, I still freak out from time to time. It's important to grieve what you're going through. But I can't live there. Grieve and get on with it is what I tell myself.
What brings you joy?
My dog, my husband, I adore being an aunt. Writing, learning, and being creative are what fill me up.