Please welcome a very special guest, author, motivational speaker, and mentor, Karen Magill! Welcome Karen! :-)
I want to take you back to June 5, 2000. That was the day my life changed drastically, forever. The alarm sounds and I rolled over to turn it off. But my left arm didn’t move so I silenced it with my right hand. Then I tried to climb out of bed but as soon as I put weight on my legs, the left one collapsed. I didn’t have a lot of time to worry about it though because nature was calling. I crawled the short distance to the bathroom and hauled my body on the toilet. After I finished there, I was able to put some weight on my left leg and I pulled myself up to the vanity and leaned against it. While brushing my teeth, I noticed that the left side of my face wasn’t moving. It is as if someone has drawn an invisible line down the center of my body and one side works while the other doesn’t. Something was wrong, but what?
Once at work and when the doctor’s office opened, I phoned and made an appointment. He poked and prodded me before sending me to emergency at the hospital across the street. I sat in the emergency waiting room at St. Paul’s Hospital where my grandmother had died of a brain tumor in 1937. The thought of a brain tumor crossed my mind. That wasn’t it.
I didn’t get to find out that day. I waited for five hours before being seen by a doctor then a neurology intern. Five hours and I get an intern. The intern poked and prodded me before going to make some phone calls. By that time, I was fed up. I didn’t care anymore! Okay I did care but I wanted to go home. I was tired, hungry and craving a cigarette. I was there seven and a half hours before I got to leave.
Two days later, I went to see a neurologist who poked and prodded me and asked the same questions as the other doctors. I tried to be a good patient but I was starting to get scared and there were still no answers. My mother had come to the appointment with me and when we left, I turned to her and said,
“Mom, I’m afraid one night I am going to go to sleep and not wake up.” She took my hand and answered,
“Then you call me every morning so you have to wake up.” I have an extra special mom.
I really wanted to know why this happened but it was more than that. In 1984, a horse I was riding had a heart attack and fell on me, cracking my skull. Ever since then I had strange things happening with my body like sudden numbness in my limbs, unexplained pains. Doctors kept telling me there was nothing wrong; it was all in my mind. I knew my problems were real so my fear now was that they wouldn’t find anything and again I would be left with symptoms and no answers.
On June 14, after an MRI, the neurologist said “Multiple Sclerosis”. I viewed this as good news...at first, I finally have proof there was something wrong. As my late father said, “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t”.
One of the things I remember thinking, and don’t ask me why, was that I’ll never again be able to climb the 2.9 kilometre hike up the side of Grouse Mountain known as the Grouse Grind. That thought was quickly replaced with thank God, I don’t have to climb the Grind again.
Diagnosis in hand, I thought I would take time off work, then go back and my life would continue as normal. Was I ever wrong! Remember that saying: man plans, God laughs? God was laughing at me. I went back to work after five weeks off, the paralysis went away but I was still weak on my left side. One of the symptoms of MS is chronic fatigue and I was exhausted all the time plus dealing with symptoms. Working full time was difficult for me. I couldn’t afford to work part time because if I did have to go on disability, my income would be based on the part time salary.
In September, I went to the MS Clinic and it was decided I would be better off leaving work. MS took the best job I had ever had away from me. A job it took me a year and a half to get. I was devastated. I thought my life was over. I was 35 years old. I imagined myself sitting alone in my one bedroom apartment for the next forty or fifty years, watching television and just existing. Maybe surrounded by a bunch of cats.
I couldn’t see a future for myself. I didn’t realize that I had been given a gift, the gift to start my life over. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of being a published author – now, I have five books published. My first book, The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story, won an award, was translated into Turkish and a few movie producers have looked at it. My only nonfiction book, On The RightSide, My Story of Survival and Success, was nominated by a British site for best nonfiction and best cover. I have interviews in print and on radio shows, both online and off. People ask me if I would be interested in being interviewed, I don’t always approach them.
I have been asked how I did it, how I went from walking with a cane and facing a desperate future to where I am now. It was gradual. I didn’t go from waking up partially paralyzed to publishing books within months. It took years to get myself to that point and I have slid back a few times. When times get really tough though, I like to look at letter I received from Rick Hansen in which he told me to “focus on what I can do and do the best with what I have”. I do that and find there is more I can do than I ever thought.
In 2013, I stopped using the cane I had for 13 years and that’s when I knew it was time to write my story. In early 2014, I self-published On The Right Side, My Story of Survival and Success. However, I knew the book wasn’t enough to reach all the people I want to share my story with so I decided to face one of my biggest fears – public speaking.
In March of 2014, I got up on stage at the BIL Conference and told my story. It was short, I forgot part of the speech but I was hooked. I joined a local Toastmasters a few months later and have been searching for opportunities to spread my message of survival and success ever since.
I want to do more than just have people hear my story though. I want those with a chronic illness or disability realize they can accomplish so much more than they think they are capable of. So I launched a mentor program entitled “The 90-Day Turnaround: How to Transform the Quality of Your Life Starting Today.” Now I am able to work with people, one on one to show them, and the world that having a disability doesn’t have to stop us.
I have come a long way from that 35-year-old who thought her life was over just because she lost a good job and was unable to work a traditional job. I have been through a lot, had my ups and downs but I survived flourished. And I have a long ways to go yet before I am finished. It is going to be an interesting journey.
Webinar, Time To Take Your Life Back, explains the 90-Day Turnaround program. http://go.cmapn.com/karen-magill-webinar/
Facebook 90-Day Turnaround page: https://www.facebook.com/90DayTurnaround?ref=hl