I was diagnosed with MS in 2010 after a year of tests. I was 25, had just moved to London, and finally got a dream job working as a concert promoter.
Getting diagnosed with MS
Just a few months into my new job, I started getting headaches, and then numbness in my arms and legs. I knew something wasn’t right but didn’t want to let it get in the way of my new career.
After numerous appointments – eye tests, scans and a lumbar puncture – I was told I had MS. The consultant at the time suggested I started treatment, which would be a daily injection. But I decided that I’d try to manage it without.
I told a few people at work and my close friends at the time, because they knew I was going for tests, but I kept it pretty quiet. I needed to get my head around it, and, in hindsight, I was probably in shock for a long while.
Living and working symptom free
For years I lived symptom free and wondered whether I’d been misdiagnosed. I went on to achieve more than I could’ve ever dreamed of in my career. I worked with some amazing artists, seeing them go from playing their first shows in the back room of a pub to selling out arenas.
The day after my 30th birthday I had an interview with AEG Live, one of the world’s leading companies in live entertainment. They offered me the role of Vice President of Live Music. It was an incredible job - I promoted tours for artists like Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, The xx and alt J.
But since my diagnosis I always knew it wasn’t sustainable. Fatigue is a common symptom but I’d just put being tired down to the late nights and busy lifestyle!
Coping with an MS relapse
Two years ago, I had a relapse that could only be as a result of the MS. I couldn’t feel my feet, which also affected my concentration at work. It was a particularly busy time, as we’d just launched a new festival which I was booking, alongside promoting tours and dealing with personal issues.
I went for more scans and was told they were showing more lesions in my brain and spine than the last scans I had eight years before.
I didn’t take any time off at the time though. Booking a festival had been my ultimate dream so I wanted to see it through. But at that point I knew things needed to change.
Taking a break
Although I may have been living in denial for all those years, I do believe the diagnosis spurred me on to achieve more in my career. However, at this point, I felt ready for the first time to put my career on hold and look after my health. I finally accepted that I was living with a disease and that I needed to take control of it or it would take control of me.
I left my job not knowing what was going to be next. I decided to use the time to improve my Spanish, and headed to Barcelona where I had friends, and where the skies are always blue.
Learning from living with MS
During my time off, I realised that music is still my passion but I that need to do things differently. I’m back working for AEG, but on my own terms, working across the festivals. My old boss was hugely supportive and offered to bring me back in as a consultant so I can work from anywhere. I’m back in London for now, but try to get away for some sunshine during the winter months.
I’ve learned so much from living with MS. It’s taught me how to cope in times of uncertainty, and I feel grateful for that. It’s not easy, and there are challenging days. But all you can do is focus on what is within your control and take each day as it comes.
I feel positive that I’ll get through this and beat MS. We’ll all get through these difficult times and I believe it will only make us stronger.
This is an edited version of a post originally published on Laura's own blog.
Photo: Brenna Duncan