Motherhood and Multiple Sclerosis were born together in my life as my immune system attacked itself in error, following the birth of my wonderful baby boy, Elliot. A journey of adversity, fear and the unknown began. That was eleven years ago now and nothing and no one has stayed the same.

Patricia Gachagan

Patricia Gachagan

I couldn’t change what had happened and so I had to look at changing me. All my dreams and aspirations remained the same, but my quest to achieve them challenged me to the core and made me question my very being. I faced a future trying to raise and grow a new life in this world at the same time as saying goodbye to my old life and abilities.

But from the first day of my diagnosis I took the decision that it would not be a sad goodbye. I took the decision that I would learn to embrace the new me with my new and ‘different’ abilities. It has been a long and tough road and I have changed so much. Counselling has played a crucial role. I have followed an alternative approach to managing my MS with diet and exercise being the backbone of that. It has been a long and tough road, but thankfully I have been tougher and never stopped searching and embracing the many tools out there to help mitigate the erratic course of Multiple Sclerosis.

I have shared this journey with my son Elliot from the very beginning. I have not hidden anything from him and so he has grown up learning that we are all different with differing needs and abilities and that we should celebrate these in all walks of life. I have taught him that his mum is not and never will be ‘disabled’ no matter what my future holds, but that I am ‘differently’ abled. We still manage to live a full and enriched life, but we do it differently. Life with motherhood and MS has been about adapting, adapting and then adapting some more. Elliot has been brought up with the phrase, coined in the early days. He has been brought up to find solutions and overcome obstacles, just like mum has

It was not the journey I was expecting for myself or my child and I had to change course very quickly. There have been many difficult moments of motherhood and MS, none more so than with fatigue, but we have stuck together and found a way through them. Sometimes just appreciating the simplest of things in life and letting go of societal norms and expectations. There have been many positive days where we have adapted to our circumstances and made the best of what we have got, sometimes just a day with books and toys on the double bed when Elliot was small as that was about all the energy and ability I had.

We focus on what we can do and achieve and are grateful for so much. I might have got Multiple Sclerosis, but I got Elliot and became a mum. Something I will be forever grateful for. My debut book, Born Together, published on 28th May 2017, shares my journey and offers hope and inspiration to each and every one of us.