I’m a businesswoman looking after my family’s restaurant on the Upper East Side called Isle of Capri while a running an active real estate practice. I’m beyond busy all the time, but who isn’t in New York City?
The thing is, I have Multiple Sclerosis and I refuse to let it slow me down. In fact, it’s given me a new outlook on life and a focused determination.
I had my first “episode” at age 18 but it wasn’t until I was 23 that I got my diagnosis. When the doctor said I had MS I didn’t freak. Ignorance is bliss, right? I had no idea what it was or how it would affect my life. My reset didn’t begin as a sudden shift but a slow curve as I had to figure it out as I went l along.
My diagnosis was before the age of the Internet so Googling wasn’t an option. It was a slow learn on my part figuring out what it all meant, as I had to dig for information the old fashioned way. Remember card catalogues at the library, those rows and rows of tiny index cards in library cabinetry?
The diagnosis was life-changing for the better. It made me see things more clearly. It helped me figure out who my true friends are and their support has been unceasing and invigorating. It made me a better businesswoman with a keener focus and an ability to cut through the crap. I no longer wait for tomorrow but view every day as an opportunity for accomplishment. I am more aware of life’s frailties. And I’ve dumped all the people in my world that aren’t contributing positively. I’ve no time for bullshit.
As I get older and the disease becomes more and more a part of me, it is getting more difficult. I have trouble with high heels now, so no more stilettos for me. But with each physical challenge, I rise. I’ve devised tricks to help. Open spaces wreak havoc with my sense of balance, so I often walk with a wheeled suitcase. It’s a simple trick that physically grounds me. I’m working up the style sense to get the crystal ball cane Madonna used at the 2014 Grammy Awards. That cane was pretty impressive.
The one thing I do appreciate is a good laugh and a great glass of wine so I’ve focused my career on what I love. I started ClicktoSip, an online wine distributor, a few years back and recently launched Brina, an insulated wine sleeve made in Italy, just a couple of months ago. It’s been incredibly exciting being part of something new. Did I mention I’m super busy?
My advice to women when diagnosed with MS is to first find a great doctor to help guide them and second, try to avoid dwelling on the Internet. It’s filled with anecdotal horror stories which will shock and scare the bejesus out of you. Surround yourself with positivity and focus on what you care about. Finally, I’ve learned that being independent doesn’t mean not accepting help, so ask for it if you need it.
Having MS has shown me that life is too short to do something you don’t love and be with those who don’t love you. So my reset, while beginning over 20 years ago has been slow in coming, but is now in full force. I hope to embrace all that life has to give.