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“This doesn’t stop me being a dad.”
Most people can't predict what's going to happen each day, and the same is true with MS. With both you have to adapt to the situation you’re in, and that can be empowering, but it can also be downright scary.
I'd always wanted to be a dad. I wanted to prove that just because I have MS, it doesn't stop me being a dad, I just have to rethink how I achieve it.
My wife knew, and I knew, that I wouldn't be up to do a lot of the stuff other parents can do. She knew I wouldn't be able to get up and change our daughter's nappy. So my wife stepped in and I remember saying to her: "Every time Tilly wakes you up, make sure you wake me up as well, because why have one sleep-deprived parent when you can have two?”
I knew how lonely it can be as a new mum and you're the only person awake. I wanted to be there for her.
With the unpredictability of MS you have this strength. You think “well, I'm going to end up in a wheelchair or end up with all these symptoms”, but it’s a surprise how much you can still do. Just because someone says “oh he can't do that”, doesn't mean you can’t do it. You just need to rethink how you reach the end goal.
I remember when I was first diagnosed with MS. Because I was 23 I remember thinking “isn't MS something old people get?” I did lots of research so by the time I got diagnosed it was obvious it was MS… it was either MS or like, 20 other conditions at the same time so I thought, "well, that’s the lesser of two evils."
I am 35 now and if you'd said to me at 23 I would be using an electric wheelchair by the time I was 30, I don't think I'd have believed you.
I knew progression could be quite rapid, but you don't believe it's going to be the case for you. But when I started using my electric wheelchair, it was frankly a little easier for me. I was whizzing about, and trying not to run people over, rather than struggling in my manual wheelchair without much strength in one of my arms. Before I'd just go around and around and around in the same spot. That would be very funny, if it wasn't also very true.
I'd say MS doesn't have to stop you from doing anything, but it can stop you believing in yourself. But More to uS is about not being afraid to show everyone "yeah, this is me." It's about showing the world that even if you've got this thing called MS, that doesn't detract from the person you are. It's just an extra badge. It's like: “Here’s Gavin Lehmann-Gant, featuring MS.”
“The brighter, the better.”
“I do everything people say you shouldn’t do.”
“I love being out there.”
“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.”
“I can still play the game.”
“If you’re not happy with yourself, you’re not happy.”
“I see life through many lenses.”
UK | October 2020 | MUL20-C021b(1)