You’re a highly motivated and successful lawyer, living your dream working at one of the nation’s most prestigious blue chip law firms. You work ten, stress-filled hours a day and end up each night exhausted on your couch. You keep telling yourself that being this tired is from your stressful job. You are in great shape, running on a regular basis when one day you get shooting electric-like surges in your neck and down your spine. That coupled with the numbness in your limbs is enough for you to visit a doctor. In what seems like an instant, your life changes. The doctor explains that you have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks your brain and spinal cord, which has no cure.
This was Karen Brisch’s life before Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.
“Getting diagnosed was extremely difficult. I was scared to go to sleep at night, because I didn’t know how my body would feel when I woke up the next morning. I would think, will I need a wheelchair to get around tomorrow? Ironically, I was worried about worrying. I was also scared to do much of anything, for fear that I might accidentally make the disease worse or provoke another symptom. Could I keep exercising? Stay up late? Work hard? Go to happy hour? I didn’t know.”
After Karen’s diagnosis, she realized she had far more questions than answers. Being an active and driven woman, she was perplexed by advice such as “take it easy” and “go visit a museum.”
Karen was determined to get her life back. During the summer of 2011, Karen’s family discovered Can Do Multiple Sclerosis while vacationing in Vail, Colorado and immediately decided to research Can Do MS online.
“I googled Can Do MS and was surprised to read a description of a program that I had needed for such a long time.”
That next day Karen and her husband Mike walked into Can Do MS and applied for our May 2012 CAN DO® Program.
“The description of the program that really stuck with me was the idea that this program picked up where the doctors left off. I really hoped that the program would address all of the uncertainties that the doctors could not or would not address. I wanted a more comprehensive, life-style approach to managing my MS.”
While attending the program, Karen worked on her two biggest battles with MS – fatigue and cognitive issues. She learned that proper exercise and nutrition were key to reducing her fatigue and improving her stamina and cognition. Karen’s approach to exercise before the program was to give 150% for as long as she could, resulting in disabling fatigue and a long recovery time. Our programs consultants taught her that exercising just 20 minutes a day at a comfortable pace was all she needed. Not only did Karen receive individualized care from our programs consultants, she also got inspired.
“I think the relationships are magic. Having people you respect believe that you can do what you’ve set out to do is even more magical. It has really, really had a huge impact on my motivation and desire to achieve the goals that I set during the program.”
Karen’s new approach to managing her fatigue and cognitive issues has ignited her can do spirit. She wants to combine two of her passions to help pass on this spirit. She hopes to pair rescued foster dogs with former inmates reintegrating into society, for companionship, unconditional love and training.
“Without the CAN DO Program I would have never thought I could manage my fatigue enough to undertake a large task on my own. Once you’ve received a magical gift, though, you really do have to pass it on. There is nothing that I’d love more than having the energy to help others who really need someone to believe in them. I want to lift people up and give them the tools to overcome their life challenges, just like the CAN DO Program did for me.”
The lives of people living with MS are changed every day through your support of our programs. Which include monthly webinars, one-day JUMPSTART® Programs throughout North America, online Q & A – Ask The Can Do Team and our flagship four-day CAN DO® Program.