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Trying to lead a ‘normal’ life

May 1, 2010
By Cindy Votruba

Although she has had multiple sclerosis for all of her teen years, Anna Olson always has a good outlook on life.

"Just live each day like it's awesome," Olson said.

Olson, a 2009 Lakeview High School graduate, is the ambassador for Walk MS: Christopher and Banks Marshall Walk on Sunday.

The walk will be at 10 a.m. at Independence Park in Marshall.

Olson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 2004 when she was just 13 years old. Both of her grandmothers had MS as well.

"It's been kind of a challenge, it's something I had to live with," Olson said.

In the six years since her diagnosis, Olson has learned to cope with her condition.

"I've been trying to be as normal as I can," Olson said. "It's (the MS) not uber-noticeable."

But she kind of has a permanent limp, which, she said, is sort of annoying.

"When I get more sleep, it's better," Olson said.

But that's not always easy when you're a college student, she said. She is a freshman music education major at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.

"I always have to cut time out in my schedule for medicine and stuff like that," Olson said. "I was a lot more active in high school than in college."

She used to have shots for her MS, but now Olson takes Tysabri, which has been working really well, she said.

"Once a month I have to get an infusion," Olson said. The process takes an hour, and then she has to wait another hour to make sure she doesn't have a reaction.

Olson also has to exercise to keep up with the MS.

"If you don't use it, you lose it," Olson said.

And she has to be careful as MS is a really unpredictable disease, Olson said.

"I have to remember not to do something stupid and regret later," Olson said.

Olson said she's developed friendships with others who know what she's going through, both in person and through online support groups. She said people may not always be aware of how many do have MS; it could affect someone they know.

"It's closer than you realize," Olson said.

Olson has been part of a team for the MS Walk for the last five years. This year her team is called the Wave Walkers. She said she participates for several reasons, including one important one.

"So that other kids don't have to go through what I have (gone through)," Olson said. "It's a headache."



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