Aaron Solowoniuk, drummer for Canadian band Billy Talent has been living with MS for over 15 years. He speaks about diet, exercise and his aims to drum again following a relapse.
Getting stronger after a relapse
I am trying to get healthy with exercise and nutrition. I have gained a couple of pounds and I am feeling myself getting stronger.
I was diagnosed at 24 and I still got to do all of the things that I dreamt of doing in my late twenties, thirties and up until now I am still living my dream.
Making the decision not to tour
It was just necessary - the alternative would have been to really hurt myself. My body was telling me to slow down and I really don’t know if I listened to it fully over the years. It was definitely the right decision for what I needed to do in my life at the moment.
Nutrition and exercise are important to me
I think nutrition and exercise should be an addition to the therapy that you are on. I have this stretch routine which I try to do every day. I don’t lift any weights, I am just stretching and using my own body weight and do a couple of sets of push ups. Just keep moving is my advice to anyone with anyone with MS.
Support from fans
The guys are on the road and every single city there will be Twitter messages from fans saying ‘the band was great last night and we hope you are feeling better’.
The amount of love is overwhelming and I use it as inspiration to get stronger and get back and play drums again. It’s a lot of work to get to that point, but the reaction has been nothing but love which is really good.
Our album Afraid of Heights is special to me
It really is a special record and I am glad to say that I got to help write 12 of the 13 songs. I was almost in the studio when I had to stop. It was a rollercoaster and I am so happy that the album got to be made and the guys didn’t wait for me to get better.
I didn’t want to have a timeline on me getting back behind the drums. Afraid of Heights is close to my heart - and everyone who hears it seems to really like it.
Being diagnosed with MS and starting FUMS
I pushed it aside and didn’t want to think about it or read about it for many years. I finally started to treat it with a bit more respect. I thought why not put on some sort of charity show to raise money for kids with MS.
From working with the MS Society to putting on youth based programmes, (FUMS) was born. It’s been very humbling and rewarding to work with people and tell my story - hopefully they get some positivity out of it.
Living with MS isn’t just physical
There is also the mental aspect that comes into it. Your mind is so powerful. If you are walking around all day feeling sorry for yourself then you are not going to feel well.
I know it is a really hard thing to say but you really have to dig deep and think about what are the positive things about having MS. Has it made slow down and appreciate things a bit better? Do you get to meet different people?
My goal for 2017 is...
I really want to do some shows next year. My goal is to keep up my training, get stronger and become a stronger dummer. I want to be up and playing at some point next year too.