Former marine Paul Kerr writes about his shock MS diagnosis and how a positive outlook has helped him grab every opportunity.
When I was 27, I was an exceptionally fit and active outdoor instructor working on the Scottish mountains and lochs. It was here my life took a completely unexpected and devastating turn - I was diagnosed with a relatively aggressive form of relapsing remitting MS.
At the time, I automatically focused on the worst that could happen and felt terrified of the future. I would have liked to read a success story about someone in my position and what they had achieved - so I decided to write an autobiography.
Gratitude and being active is important
I have learned a lot over the years, and in my opinion, there is no such thing as a ‘bad experience’- it’s all how you view it. I also find that practising gratitude also helps me - being grateful for what I have, rather than what I haven’t. One thing I am incredibly grateful for is my son, Zander, who is ten. He makes everything worthwhile.
Although I walk with a limp and I can get very dizzy, I am happy to say that I still lead a very active life. I’ve completed the UK’s 24 hour Three Peaks Challenge, finishing in 22 and a half hours. I’ve also launched and swam in the successful Clyde Charity Challenge. The fifth swim took place last Saturday with around 50 people talking part, including people from Thailand and Germany!
Writing my book
My autobiography Mega Stubborn is a very honest and at times harrowing account of how it’s been for me while losing the use of my right side before fighting back. Writing was very therapeutic and I cried a lot during the process. They say everyone has a book in them and that includes me - a dyslexic former Royal Marine!
I wrote Mega Stubborn in a bid to reach out and share my story, and hopefully make others look to their own future with renewed hope. You’re not alone with this, we’re all in it together. My book even has a foreword from Sir Ranulph Fiennes - I’m very proud of it.
Positive about the future
I feel optimistic about the future. There are lots of clever people doing MS research, backed by funding from organisations like the MS Society.
Now at the age of 38, I believe I have experienced every emotion under the sun, and all at a very powerful level. I can now say I’ve learned how to turn a negative into a positive and work it in my favour.
I have been fortunate enough to have led an eventful life full of extremes, both good and bad. Those experiences have stood me in good stead in recent years.