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Stefan Taylor taking a selfie next to a sign showing how high he's hiked

"My journey with MS" - a poem

Stefan Taylor

Stefan, who was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in his final year of university, shares a poem he wrote that explores his journey with MS. 

I hope this poem can help someone, even if it's just one person. I wrote it because my friend told me it could help my depression and because he knows I like to write poetry. I found that writing this was therapeutic and helpful for me. Something that I used to find embarrassing (like my bladder problems) I found easy to talk about. I hope hearing me talk about it can help someone else.

My journey with MS

At times I speak slurred 

lacking clarity. 


I speak 



I remember that night and my sight, 

A traffic light with a dulled glow was a sight 


lack of. 

Of course eye was told that my sight would not be restored - Typical. 


Fam, this is not a joke ting I was vex and I wanted to flip, 


Nothing could be done, 

I wanted to run, 

but anger revolted they held me. My vision 

was tinged 

with denial. 

It just did not feel real. 


I liked to run although not quite like the video, catching Kayla. 

Instead of a track I'd run and collapse at the door - Numbness. 

What's more, counting to thirty became Difficult. 

Memory problems 

are 'Invisible', 

I grew Irritable, and that was not invisible... 

I struggled to count to 30, the Embarrassment, 

I knew something was wrong. 


In the end I returned to education, 

once more I Felt normal 

till my words 

stumbled, they ran with no regard to clarity. I often finished sentences 

with sounds or phrases. 

seminars were a mental magnifying glass. 

On my potential condition, 

A drama, my own rendition, 

I focus on the word 'potential' 

Because everyone with MS not diagnosed knows they Have something – fact 

In the end I changed the way I speak 

the past, present and future were always 

changing and overlapping. 


I began to feel walls for balance, 

anything really; 

not many people know how loyal a wall is,

Tis always there, supporting you, 

It never changes 

Bill Withers, 


To all 

Thank you. 


Videos of I were a snapshot of my 

condition, physically and mentally I had come far; 

I was scarred and scared, 

for I knew of only one person who had the condition 

and that did not help... 

I'd say I was a Scared boy for I knew little and Cared Too Much. 

Sober I'd walk and talk, but 


a stranger 

dared to ask if I was Drunk, 

despite the wires running down my leg. 

There was also the time I Cried 

as I was not served alcohol, 

Apparently, I was Drunk 

so I paid and left. 

I went to a bar, I 

waited for my girlfriend now Wife 

and Cried 

like a baby; 

because of this Now I rarely drink in 



I also had 

a seminar for 

English Literature. 

I forgot what my class had discussed, 

It's normal I know, but what if I told you it's Daily? 

I answered a past question, 






My final year, Enter spasticity and the worsening fatigue. 


Spasticity to me, 

wastes Energy 

and I don't have lots of that to give... 

My leg bounces even once I have finished 


I've lost balance too, so again, 

I am not Drunk 


Now I admit 


Is used sometimes as a time skip 

I can be tired 

As sometimes I do not want to  

deal with it. 


Fatigue? I'll elaborate. 

Each step is late, slow so 

I wade through invisible mud 

the thickness cannot be seen only 


This year was by far the toughest, 

not because of uni; not because I had just moved; or work; 

Or even the night buses from uni going home, 

but because of the 


Perhaps this is where an early depression started. 

Despite the MS Society and their 

Orange, The Swedish Syringe hinged on the good; out weighing the dark dingy depression - Escape. 

Anyone who has been in that state knows how dark depression is. 

My 5 stages of grief: Denial check 

My old familiar - Anger. 

I was angry most of the time 


To the people affected, I am sorry. 


Bargaining, despite rumors nothing could ‘cure’ MS  - Fact, maybe One Day. 


Depression damn that was tough,  



The ‘last’ stage 'Acceptance', it has been over 9 years, I have finally Accepted my diagnosis. But 

the phrase ‘last stage’ is incorrect 

There is no last stage. 

Sad, right? 

The stages age, hibernate till Next time.

The cycle is endless. 

My pace was changing and still does, 

Now, I lean and touch everything. I sometimes trip 

because of my drop foot. 

Often I am in pain 

but no one really notices. 

Once my face would reveal winces, and since this 

I've learnt to disguise my lies. 

The things people do not see bother me daily like 


Processing speed 



An acronym? It's so much more and My Nerves are a wish for Normality. 

Also battling the elements can be tough. 


I have forgotten what Normality feels like. Or at least what regular balance feels like and let's throw the bladder problem in there too. 

Always searching for a loo 

sometimes there is urgency,  

accidents can happen  


Eating my dinner sometimes 

takes two 


you may think two is too many 

My hands and arms can feel 


It took a while to acknowledge that 


I need help 



my Wife helps me 



And often I stretch, 

like I just woke up 

the stretch briefly erases my hourly 


Check this, 

in some ways  


Some weird type of  



And... It's not my choice 


Don't Touch Me 


when it happens 

I've got no balance. 

Only talents with 




You may guess that 

My leg is weak, 

And is also, at times, 

half asleep. 

So instead let's discuss fingers, 

when I write or type I dread 

the weakness 

as it ironically travels  

Quietly and Quite Quickly 

watch me deteriorate 



to my hamstring  

to my 


to my  


until my whole leg struggles. 

To Lift 



now I'd say that now 

my pace is Eventually 

A Walking Stick is Often Used, 


In the Pool i'm Weightless and Painless, 

I'm a black shark it's over. 


I remember a trip to the Zoo. 

My splint went over my trousers 

On display for the public to see. 

I No longer cared. 

Before I was embarrassed, 

Now with the strength I've harnessed, 

I can now admit it is MY MS and MY disease, it's Mine 

there's No denial no more. 

One of my walking sticks has a metallic golden lion 

On top 

I'm not lying or 

Stretching the truth 

With my MS I have traveled, 

I've Conquered the Conquest of Hikes I've seen Volcanoes and Mountains; like Mt Etna and Mt Blanc, Different heights, Long days, twists and turns, 

I'm a published Poet and 

Swimming will Forever be my thing, 


Contested the fear of traveling  - alone 

taught in a foreign place, 


I was on pace for a 2:1 but 

that final year was tough I wanted to drop out from uni.....  but 

I didn't 

I Graduated with a 2:2 

No one can take my degree away although not just the 


But my MS Journey.... 

MS Didn't win anything 

I did, I Won It 


But hey, everyday with MS is different. 

But I now know my MS journey has only just Begun