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Staying positive, fighting MS

Kristen Edwards, 37, with her daughter Paige Hollett, 4, at the 2015 Mandarin Multiple Sclerosis Walk in Kingston, Ont. on Sunday May 24, 2015. Edwards was diagnosed with MS at 31 and is just taking it one day at a time. Steph Crosier/Kingston Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network

Kristen Edwards is living life one day at a time.

 Edwards, 37, walks with a cane, but she can lift her daughter, and her smile is vibrant. As draining symptoms of the multiple sclerosis she was diagnosed with six years ago slowly creep through her body, Edwards lives for her family.

“This is who I stay positive for,” Edwards said lifting her four-year-old daughter Paige Hollett up for a photo. “How could you not?”

Edwards and her family were at the 2015 Mandarin Multiple Sclerosis Walk at Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Sunday morning. The event featured five-kilometre and 10-kilometre walk/run events and a lunch afterward. Before it started, Edwards attempted to tell the story of her MS journey in a paragraph.

“One morning, I woke up and my feet were asleep, all up my legs and my feet,” Edwards told the Whig-Standard. “The next day and my hands were asleep, numb and tingly, and my arms. It felt like a band around my chest.”

Not knowing what was happening, Edwards went to the emergency room a number of times before an appointment with a neurologist was booked. After an MRI, her doctor called her in and told her she had MS.

“My first questions were, ‘am I going to die?’ ‘am I going to be able to have children?’ because I wanted to have another,” recalled Edwards, who had just reconnected and married high school sweetheart AJ Hollett. “It was a surreal feeling, of course, and shock.

“Since then, I had my daughter, and I did really well while pregnant, and after I stopped nursing I started having, on my right leg, I couldn’t bend my toes, I stopped being able to run and jog, those types of things, and I call it my lame leg.”

Edwards said one of the worst symptoms of the central nervous system’s autoimmune disease is how draining it is.

“The fatigue; I worked six days a week prior to my illness, about a year or two after the diagnosis I couldn’t work anymore,” said Edwards, who was a nursing personal support worker. “I have a hard time taking care of my home, and I have very limited energy. Doctor (appointments) or bathing take a lot of energy.

“It’s been a real shock, and changed my life in many ways.”

Edwards said she doesn’t think about what 10 years down the road may look like.

“(MS) didn’t scare me for a long time, and I was very positive,” Edwards said. “All of a sudden, in the last couple of years, I have been very scared because I couldn’t walk, and things weren’t getting better. It wasn’t a relapse, they’re there for good.

“So that scares me, but I try to stay positive.”

Edwards said it is tough to be positive sometimes when complete strangers question her disability. She has had random people yell and scream at her and her 18-year-old daughter Emily Edwards for parking in handicap parking spaces.

“This is something I found shocking,” Edwards said. “I didn’t realize people were like that … they point at me when I’m parking at grocery store, or yell at my daughter when she’s moving it out of the handicap spot, they will scream at me, ‘She doesn’t look that disabled!’ and I haven’t even gotten out of the car.

“It can bring me to tears.”

Edwards said she’s been yelled at multiple times in Kingston. She just asked people not to judge anyone using the handicap spots.

“It’s hard enough to have this disease and to be going through all theses things,” Edwards said. “But to have people yelling at me ... That’s one thing that shocked me for sure.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by THEWHIG
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length
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