Watch “Motherhood with MS Part 1 – Why I Went 168 Consecutive Hours Without Sleep” on YouTube

Hey guys! I know a lot of you have read about my journey but I am doing a sequence of videos on YouTube regarding my journey as a mother with MS.

Motherhood is hard for us all, but navigating through all of the ins and outs while also dealing with a chronic illness and disability is certainly a daily challenge all in its own.

Thanks for listening and feel free to share if you wish xo

The Waiting Game

Much of our time during a day is spent WAITING.

In FACT, the average person will spend approximately 5 years of their life SOLELY waiting in lines.

But there is no shortage of ways we will find ourselves waiting and inevitably find the minutes of our lives ticking by.

We will most definitely find ourselves waiting for the bus, waiting in traffic, waiting for traffic lights to turn green, waiting in line for coffee, or simply waiting for our turn in the bathroom. 

We often spend time waiting for mail to arrive, job offers to come through, or for our favourite holiday to come back around. 

We wait for our children to pick out their favorite shirt, to put away their toys, to say sorry when they’ve crossed the line, or even just to give us a great BIG hug! 

We wait for the weekend to arrive, to see our spouse and children at the end of a long day, and can’t wait until our closest friends and family come to visit.

During less favourable times, we wait for a diagnosis, a medication to work, a weaning off of a medication which didn’t, and we wait until a better one comes along. 

We spend time waiting for both good  and bad news to arrive, for a cold or flu to pass, and we wait for a rainy day to become sunny. 

We wait for our laundry to be done, dinner to cook, and the dishwasher to finish. 

We wait for the coffee to finish brewing, the kettle to come to a boil, and for our tea to steep. 

We wait for our first kiss, an eventual marriage proposal, and the inevitable “I Do.” A moment which at one point can’t come soon enough, becomes the moment we wish we could place on repeat.

Us women wait a whole nine months (often impatiently) for our little miracle to grow inside of us, and then like a flip of a switch, we wish for nothing more than to have time slow down.

We often find ourselves waiting to see changes in our body, changes in our mood, and changes in our lifestyle. 

We can’t wait for the day we finally reach our goals, our accomplishments, or witness the goals and accomplishments of others being conquered. 

The list of all the MANY things in life for which we wait, goes on and on and on… And as LIFE goes on itself, there will CONSTANTLY be new reasons to wait. 

However in my opinion, there is a huge take away by acknowledging all the above, and that is we must become and remain PRODUCTIVE while we wait. 

The biggest thing in life I am currently waiting for, is for my stem cells to repair damage on my spinal cord. Something that could be absolutely Life-Changing for me. BUT if I simply just wait, simply just wonder, or simply just imagine a life outside of a wheelchair, It may quite possibly do more harm than good. 

I’ve come to the realization that I CANNOT just simply wait. Life is far too short for that.

I must remain patient but I must also remain productive. That is… eating well, treating my body well, exercising in any way I can, spending quality time with my family and friends, and continuing along my own personal journey with Wheelchair Tennis. 

As I’ve mentioned before, this sport has given me an avenue to apply my competitive spirit, regain a level of Independence, and distract my mind from all of the symptoms I must push through on a daily basis. 

The pain is never gone, and neither is the suffocating fatigue, tightness or inability to walk. But when I’m on that court, hitting that ball… My mind, for THAT instant, becomes distracted and I become productive. 

SO… Whatever it is you are waiting for, whether it be big or small, take time to fill your mind with positive and productive thoughts. 

While you wait in line for that coffee, possibly think of one kind gesture you could do for someone else. OR while you wait for that last load of laundry, maybe think of one positive change you could make in your life. 

There is ALWAYS something we can do while we wait. Whether we are waiting for minutes, days, months, or years, become PRODUCTIVELY patient and enjoy the journey of life! 

#thewaitinggame #beproductive #bepositive #bemindful #bethankful #bekind #andalwaysenjoythejourney 

My Life-Changing Endeavour

If you’ve been following my blog, Facebook, or Instagram, you probably have a pretty good idea of how much I LOVE tennis. It’s not a little bit or even a lot, it’s my absolute BIGGEST passion outside of my family and friends. 

Not only did I fall in love with the sport in such a short period of time, I fell in love with my coach, who is now my hubby and father to our amazing son Landon.

I was the player you would probably find on the court almost every day and sometimes even twice. Although I was just a club player who enjoyed competition and once in awhile traveled to tournaments with my husband, I was dedicated to the sport and dedicated to becoming the best player I could be.

5 years ago when my MS wouldn’t allow me to be on the court anymore, DEVASTATION hit me like a MASSIVE boulder. 

Although it was upsetting at the time to realize I would not be playing tennis THAT season, I still held high hopes for playing again as an able-bodied athlete. I would always say ‘maybe next year’, and when that didn’t happen I would say ‘maybe the year after that.’ But by the time the fourth-year came, I knew I was dealing with something much worse. I knew I was dealing with permanent damage. And at my fourth year I said to myself ‘If I’m not playing by next year, I’m going to play in a wheelchair.’

It was a statement I took seriously but I’m not sure how many other people REALLY realized JUST how serious I was… Not only because it would be hard emotionally to play the sport I love so much in wheelchair, but because of the barriers placed in front of the sport… the BIGGEST one being the extremely expensive wheelchair itself.

But now fast-forward to today and I am so thankful for all the generous people both on and off the court who rallied around me and raised enough money for me to purchase my OWN tennis wheelchair. (which I am expecting to arrive in just a short couple of weeks!) Because of all of you, I have been able to start this life-changing endeavor! 

The sport of Wheelchair Tennis is hard, it is frustrating at times, and at times I even wondered ‘is this ever going to get easier?’ Don’t get me wrong, I loved the fact that I could be back on the courts with my family and friends, as that was DEFINITELY my main goal. 

BUT playing in a wheelchair while you must push yourself around the court, then having to push yourself around holding a racquet AND get to the ball not too early, not too late and in the EXACT right position with the EXACT right grip…is NOT an easy feat. 

It is by far the most difficult sport, or version of a sport I have ever tried. But that being said, it is the absolute BEST thing I have done since that devastating day five years ago when I was no longer able to play. 

Playing Wheelchair Tennis does so much more than simply allow me to play the sport I love. In fact, it is what I attribute to ‘pushing’ me to the point of overcoming my disability. 

Recently I had the opportunity to play my first-ever wheelchair tennis tournament. Never did I EVER think that my first Wheelchair Tennis Tournament would be an International one! And I didn’t plan it that way on purpose. But as I got to know Tennis Canada’s National Head Coach, I quickly learned that with Wheelchair Tennis, especially in Ontario, there are no entry level tournaments. And therefore if you want to get involved with the sport at a competitive level, you just have to Jump Right In! (Or WHEEL right in for that matter 😜)

I ended up being accepted as a wild card into the main draw of a tournament in Mississauga which attracts some of the BEST players in the world! IN FACT, the world number one was part of the same draw I was!! 😮

When I was asked if I would like to enter, despite the fact that I may not have all that much success…It took me less than 1 second to say ABSOLUTELY!

Winning was not my concern. I was just so extremely excited and honoured to be involved in the event, to get experience with what International Wheelchair Tennis tournaments were all about, AND to meet so many wonderful and amazing players who EACH have an inspiring story of their own. 

At times it was SURREAL to know that just the day before, I was on YouTube, watching these athletes play matches at the Paralympics, World Cup, and Grand Slams, and NOW I was able to introduce myself and learn about their story. 

I’m not able to say at this point how far I will get or how much I will accomplish playing wheelchair tennis, but I most definitely CAN say that I will give it all I have! I get very excited knowing that the potential is there to POSSIBLY One Day represent Canada.

There is certainly a LOT of work that needs to happen before THAT happens… But having my own personal coach, supportive family and friends, AND courts just minutes away, DEFINITELY sets me up with an unlimited potential for success. 

Playing Wheelchair Tennis is not only beneficial for my physical health, but it makes a WORLD of difference in my mental and emotional health as well, by giving me something to work towards, and something to be competitive about. 

Wheelchair Tennis has just as many International events as the ATP tour including ALL of the Grand Slams, AND is the fastest growing wheelchair sport.

It has been the absolute BEST thing to happen to me lately and the BEST way to showcase all the ability I still have left. 

After talking to these professional athletes, and seeing all of them play at such a high level, I didn’t even see the wheelchair most of the time. I just saw AMAZING people and OUTSTANDING tennis players. 

THAT is what I too hope to become in the not-too-distant future. For once since my diagnosis, it’s not about what I CAN’T do and ALL about what I still CAN!

For anyone out there who for whatever reason is now confined to a wheelchair… Please NEVER think life is over. And please NEVER EVER think that you can’t play sports again, because you absolutely positively CAN! 

There is so much potential in Wheelchair Sports and I am SO happy to have discovered it. It is exciting, inspiring, and motivating to feel more than ever before, that the sky is TRULY the limit.🌠

#wheelchairtennis #theskysthelimit #MSawareness #burnfirburn #trainbabytrain!!🎾❤️😎

The Old me Before my New “Normal”

Hey everyone and welcome to my page! I am SO excited to be releasing my first ever blog post… But Before I jump right into it all,  I first want to say “thank you”…thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for reading a bit, some, or all of what I have to say. 🙂 

My main objective is to create a safe and non-judgmental platform to post about navigating through life with a disability, and to hopefully allow others to relate to my struggles and triumphs in ways both similar and different… 

AND  through this, I hope to inspire, motivate and assure many that there is greatness to a life that may not feel all that great, and that this life regardless of the circumstances we face, is still largely what we make of it. 

SO.. smile often, cry when you need to, and when things feel overwhelming or like you are about to hit rock bottom… start to reset your sails by looking for one great thing in each day…because no matter how hard you have to look, there is always always always something to be thankful for.😘♥️

With all that being said, I guess the first question that should be answered is Who am I???🤔 and well…I guess that can be a little complicated depending on if your wondering about the “me” THEN or the “me’ NOW…but first let’s hash out all the static details… the things that HAVEN’T changed since the “Big Bang” which hit me like a transport truck 7.5 years ago…all the things that weren’t ripped away from me in the matter of an instant, or the things that haven’t been stripped from me slowly and painfully like a dripping tap…🙄😢 Ya let’s start there☺️…

  1. My name is Gillian Cruz but no… I’m not Spanish…😘 Cruz is actually my married name which I was honoured to assume when I married my amazing husband (Joel) 5 years ago. The story of how we met is both one of my favorites but also now one of the most emotional stories I have to tell. Stay tuned, I’ll definitely be writing about that soon. 😚
  2.  Next…I’m 30 years old. 😱Wow. 30. When did that happen? Recently when I was asked my age at the Casino I almost said 25! For some reason that number is stuck in my head and heart. I think I have a pretty good idea of the “why” behind THAT number .. but we will get to that later!
  3. Two years after my husband and I got married, we decided to expand our family. This was not by any means an easy decision. The many reasons as to why this was not a simple walk in the park will be unraveled in my future posts… But for now let me just say that we overcame obstacles, jumped over hurdles, knocked down walls…and on January 2nd 2015 we welcomed our baby boy Landon into our world. #bestdayofourlives😍👨‍👩‍👦
  4. The last thing I want to talk about before diving into what or who I was before my new “normal”,  is the mention of my absolutely​ AMAZING family and friends. Going through something so challenging definitely calls for a whole SWAT team of support. And no it doesn’t make the physical pain any better or allow my legs to move any easier…but what it does do is remind me of all the people who love and support me. It makes the bad days easier and the good days WAY better. Without them I wouldn’t have the quality of life I have, even if it’s not the quality of life I EVER envisioned for myself. The love and support I receive daily has not only remained “static”, it has become stronger than ever before, and for that I am thankful every single day. 🤗

There are many other things that have remained “static” in my life, specifically to do with innate qualities and traits, But it’s time to cut to the chase…

It’s time to focus on how the “old” me became the “new” me and everything inbetween.

How I went from a commited athlete to barely walking…

It all comes down to 2 simple letters…2 letters I wish never existed, 2 letters I wish not only I never heard, but 2 letters I wish 2.5 million other people never heard either… 2 letters that turned my whole world upside down in an instant.

Those 2 letters…MS😡😧 otherwise known as “Multiple Sclerosis”, an auto-immune disorder that interrupts the transmissions of messages from the brain. It effects everyone differently, but I can assure you there is not one person who doesn’t suffer from this terrible beast. 

Here’s the beginning of my story…

I was diagnosed in 2010 at the age of 23. My initial symptom was numbness and tingling in both hands, a symptom that is fairly common. BUT because I have had many injuries from the days I was a competitive hockey player, I assumed it was something to do with that.

I WISH it was…but 8 months later when I finally received my MRI results, I realized it was something much MUCH worse…

Although that day was 7.5 years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday. I went alone to my doctor’s appointment because I thought it was just going to be something simple…like I had thought all along, but when my family doctor announced my diagnosis, I burst into tears immediately. He handed me a Kleenex and began to draw a diagram to help explain what MS is all about, and all the awful things that can and do go wrong because of it.

When he was finished he asked me if I had any questions. I looked up from the paper with tears flooded in the bottom of my eyes and asked “is there a cure?” to which he responded No…it is a chronic and progressive illness, but it can be treated.

I wish I could agree with the last words my doctor said, but in my case it hasn’t been very “treatable” from the get-go…and in the matter of 2.5 years I went from playing 3 sports to no sports and now rely on a wheelchair to go further than around the house.

The struggles are REAL…the pain RELENTLESS…and the heartache often UNBEARABLE. 💔

In another post I’ll dive deeper into all of the struggles I have and continue to face, and all the adversity I’ve been required to overcome. But as I near the end of my very first post, I choose to end on a positive note…and that is for everyone reading this to know I’m still fighting…in many ways during the toughest days…I’m STILL fighting. Because in my opinion there is NO other option. I not only fight for myself and everyone else who is facing their own battles, but I continue to fight BIG TIME for my 2.5 year old son, who I hope one day will say “because of you mommy…I will NEVER give up”. ♥️