Stress can be the catalyst for the onset of many illnesses. Coping with a full-time job, a young baby and a chronic illness all at once can certainly be described as stressful. This is never easy. Particularly when they can all be so demanding at the same time. I'm learning to take a different perspective so the demands don’t take over.
Being a father to a 17-month-old can often mean restless nights, followed by a long day in the office then home to spend some (brief but) quality time with my son before his bedtime. Only to do it all over again tomorrow. It sounds tough and I suppose at times it is. At least if you apply effort into your work you might get the occasional thanks. Not so with a baby. Bringing things into perspective, the morning and evening times when I get to hang out with Oliver and see him showing off what he's learned is beyond comparison. His latest feat comes when asked “What does the lion say?” and he answers with a big "ROAR!". I couldn't be prouder!
I find routine can be the best way to keep stress levels to a minimum. Time is such a precious commodity that it needs to be used wisely. I have yet to master this skill but if you have any tips please do share in the comments section below.
Regimented tasks in our house, such as the weekly shop or cleaning floors each night before bed, are of given almost critical importance. And then stress levels rise when routine is broken. Actually, it's helpful just to take a step back, realise that it's not the end of the world and take another view. Once he's happy and healthy, that's the priority.
I need make sure his Daddy is happy and healthy too. MS can bring with it pain, fatigue, uncertainty and many other symptoms. Because of this I've started to challenge myself more. I'm almost putting myself in stressful situations so I can learn to cope with it better. Whereas before diagnosis I would have avoided them at all cost. I plan on running the Dublin Half-Marathon in September and now I've also signed up for the Full Dublin marathon in October. For me staying active and eating healthy are just as important as medication when it comes to tackling MS.
Keeping a determined and positive mindset will definitely give me a better chance of staying relapse free. It should also help me sustain a happy and healthy lifestyle. Although with MS this is never guaranteed. Those thankless and sleepless nights, were you just feel you can't do anything right for your child, can be testing. Luckily those nights have been few and far between. But they can have a knock-on effect and leave me exhausted throughout the days that follow.
Still, those sleepless nights can lead into playful days. Those rosy red cheeks and teary eyes have led to big white teeth. And those cries of frustration at him not being able to say what he wants led to a voice that now says "Dad"; and that means more to me than thanks ever could. I wish every MS Dad a great Father’s Day and look forward to reading your comments.
Keith has set up a charity page for the marathon for anyone who would like to support him as he raises funds for MS Ireland:
Keith also writes a blog where he shares on his life: https://keifib.wordpress.com/