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NL: Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show, I have a special guest who’s written her first book. It’s called, “Born Together” and she’s actually telling us her very inspiring story of a situation that happened in her life, which was like pain and joy at the same time, but how she is now using that situation to be able to empower others to take control of their lives and to really you know step into a bigger version of themselves. But before I introduce my guest, I would just want to remind you that if you are watching this on Facebook live, or later on our YouTube channel, don’t forget that after the show is over if you click the link below this video please take my 30 second quiz so we can figure out what’s holding you back from success- and help you move through that. So, please help me introduce and welcome my guest Patricia Gachagan. How are you, Patricia?
PG: I’m very good. Thank you. I’m absolutely thrilled for you to invite me on the Inspiration Show- quite overwhelmed a little bit. Thank you very much.
NL: Well, I’m really happy to have you here because you know as you know this is ‘The Inspiration Show’ and you have truly have a very inspiring story. Like I said, you’ve written your first book “Born Together”, so tell us a little bit about the journey leading up to the book and how you got to write this.
PG: Well, before I actually had my son, I was a schoolteacher and I lived in London and Barcelona. I was very much an adventurer. I love travelling. Then when I went back home and I met my husband and we had our son Elliot. Then life changed really dramatically, really quickly. My health took a big turn and we had no idea what it was. We spent the six to nine months of his life trying to locate what’s happening to my body and eventually had lots and lots of different tests, investigations in the hospital. Then I was given a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, so the whole of my life, what it had been and what I thought my future was going to be, family- it changed all… And immediately just changed. So I had just to accept it and review my whole life really in who I was and who I am.
NL: Yeah. So, I can’t even imagine. Being a mom for the first time is hard enough. Let’s face it. Then also having a diagnosis of having MS as well. So what did they tell you? Did they tell you that you only had a certain time to live, or that your quality of life would change? What did they- what did the doctors tell you?
PG: Well, it doesn’t really affect your lifespan. It’s more about the quality of your life that the prognosis was towards testability and vulnerability as the years progress and obviously that just rendered complete panic at that time. Like you said, I just had a new baby and was just learning the loops of being a mom, which was hard enough to learn- and all of a suddenness this is what I was going through and had no idea what the future was going to hold. That’s why I had to get a second look at what would I do here.
NL: Yeah. So how did you feel at that moment when you got the diagnosis? What was going through your head?
PG: You know… Even as you say it, I can still recall it. It was absolute panic… Just drenched in fear because I didn’t know what Multiple Sclerosis was, and I didn’t know what it meant, and the fear was just, “how am I going to raise this young baby?” How are we going to raise him at the same time as I’m going say goodbye to what my life had been up until then? So, it was serious fear. It was panic because I had lots of questions and I had no answers.
NL: Right. And so I know you’ve written a book “Born Together”. So what’s the book about?
PG: Well, the book teaches from the journey of a mother. The birth of Elliot was a caesarian birth and the long labor took days. Right from the birth through the first few months there was confusion and no idea what was happening to my body. Then, from the diagnosis and how we have moved forward and retired at 39 years old- when I was retired from teaching. I could no longer teach, so I could no longer earn money. My husband had to give up his job; he was at a University. He had to give up it because I couldn’t manage the childcare myself as the years went on getting him to school, getting him to nursery. So, I just have to look at and really evaluate everything.
NL: Right. And so how long ago was the diagnosis?
PG: The diagnosis was to be 10 years ago now.
NL: Right. So how are you doing today?
PG: I’m doing. I’m doing good. I have ups and downs. I have good days and bad days. My main issues are walking because when I saw the first sign that I had was that I lost the feeling in my feet. My feet went numb and it spread up to my legs and that’s the only means to deal. So because of that, my difficulty was walking from the very beginning and with fatigue. So those are my two challenges. But I overcome them on a daily basis and I’m doing quite well. I’ve been in the last four years writing and absolutely enjoying that- enjoying doing something outside of motherhood, which is they say the best job in the world, but I’d always say that I absolutely love writing. Doing something- becoming Patricia again and becoming a passionate individual because I had lost all that as I lost my teaching job. Then lost… I wouldn’t say my independence, but I did lose the ability to just do it myself- to just travel- because I couldn’t do that because I needed support with my walking. So, I lost all that. I just have to make new adjustments to accept that and then adapt immediately.
Then my “Born Together” book tells you all about how I actually have done that and it’s been a long process. It’s not something that happens quickly overnight. I’ve been through counseling, which was exceptionally helpful for me. It made a massive change in my life, but that alone was frightening. I really had to look at myself and really look at what was it like to be me before and to be me after- and it wasn’t an easy thing to see. It wasn’t because I was a very strong and independent. As I said before, I travelled. I lived abroad. There’s a lot of things and all of a sudden I can’t do that. I had to rely on people to help me to travel, to do things, to look after Elliot. So the book is all about how to do that and how it was about the journey- about how it’s about becoming different and accepting being different, and adapt to being different and finding different ways- new ways to do all things. That’s all.
NL. Yeah. I agree, I think sometimes life throws us a curveball and things change. That’s kind of the nature of the beast… What happens. So, “Okay it’s a new game”. Dust myself off. What are the new rules and how do I move forward in an empowering way? Was there, like, a turning point for you, or was there something that happened that shifted you from, “Oh my God, this is going to be my life. I need to do something more empowering about it”?
PG: Well, I think from the very beginning, Elliot did that. That’s my son, Elliot. He was the one who inspired me and I didn’t want him to have a life with a sick mom, being in the hospital. I didn’t want him to have that kind of life. I was a teacher. My friends were teachers and a lot of us had children at the same time. I was determined that he would have the same life and I would be able to get him over to his friends and do things. So that was a big thing that inspired me. But as the years went on, when I went to counselling and I started writing, it so happened that it all happened at the same time. That was when I really- that was maybe four and a half years ago- and was when the big change took place. But, I really had to look at myself and accept myself, and think, “How can I do things differently, but still do things and still achieve”.
NL: Was there a system, or something that you put in place to be able to help you with your condition?
PG: Well, I guess I started to - from the very beginning I started to – From the day I was diagnosed, I went… The first thing I did was I took Elliot and Tom and went to the bookshop and I bought a self-help book on Multiple Sclerosis. That’s the first thing I did. From that day I just started taking notes and building up, building up and from there. I have developed something I called my M.S Jigsaw, which is all the pieces I’ve gathered over the years to help me how to manage my day- to- day basis- which is diet, exercise, take supplements- I do a lot of yoga.
So, these are the things I’ve built up for many, many years and a pulled into it. That’s a system I use to actually try and deal with this physical aspects of the effects of Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve also did a lot of work on myself, a lot of how to actually manage emotionally and mentally to manage the changes.
NL: Yeah. So what kind of shifts have you made with your mindset? Like, do you think differently now?
PG: Yeah. Okay. I really do, I just… Before there was room to sometimes be negative, or think, “Oh, I can’t do that” or, “I will do it tomorrow”. There’s no room for that anymore. It’s just what I can do. I do not give any time or any attention to what I can’t. I only look at what I can do and ways to do. I won’t even enter a discussion about something I can’t do. Everybody I’m around knows that and we just talk about what we can do, and how to manage it, and what the things and the tools I need to achieve the things I want to achieve.
NL: Right. Excellent. So it doesn’t sound like you’ve been able to do this on your own. It sounds like you’ve got a good support around you.
PG: Very much. Very much so. My husband is marvelous and my sister who- my sister, she’s a great support. Also my son now; he’s 11. It’s been great because I passed so much of this on to him at a young age. You know, if something goes wrong he would say, “Mom, we can paint the window home” and that’s what he would say. Always, always looking at the positives. Whatever happens, let’s find a way to get around this. So I’ve got a great support network between my mom, and my sister, my husband, and my son. Yeah. I’m very blessed with my network to be honest.
NL: So, I do believe that that we can always find a blessing in everything that happens to us. Or if we look at it a different way, we can go, “Well if this is happening for me, what is the blessing that it’s in this?” What do you think has been a blessing for you on this journey?
PG: Well, many things. I think being able to write has been a real blessing because it’s something- I’ve always kept journals throughout my life. I always wanted to write. I was always too busy working and had to work to have the money. Then, I find myself unable to work, so the opportunity was there for me. So that would be my first blessing. I think also, I was a stay at home mom for 15 years as Eliot was a young baby, which I would never have been able to do as a teacher. So I’ve had a lot of precious time with him that I’ve been a part of. I also think that I really value things differently now- family and love. I totally value them differently because of everything that has happened that they’re such a priority in my life.
NL: Yeah. Absolutely.
PG: I think I had many blessings out of it… It’s hard to say that good can come out of such a big disease and such a big change in my life. But it has and I also think the fact that I wanted to send a message to other people that being- I don’t call myself “disabled” in any way. If someone has seen me in the street, they may think, “Oh she can’t walk quite well, she needs support walking. But I refer to myself as “differently able” because I do the same as everybody. I do it differently. Even if I go slow and I need support, it doesn’t matter. I still get there in the end and nothing will stop me from getting me where I want to go. I’m a very determined person, but I do it differently. The moment that I was able to accept that was the moment that my whole life changed- that I could accept myself as being different.
NL: Yeah. I like that. I actually- I’m writing my next book at the moment and the title is “Not Over, Just Different”. Then and I think it’s the same thing. We’re at different age of our life. We’re a different- we have a condition. We have become a mother, or a parent, and things change. It doesn’t mean that life before was over. It’s just morphed into something different and as long as we can look at the positives about it, and sort of build on that, we can really create something beautiful. So- but it sounds like the book is not just for people with MS. It sounds like anyone would be able to learn lessons from the book.
PG: Oh, very, very much so. In fact, that’s a been a lot of feedback I’ve been getting from it. It’s inspiring people and they want to maybe shift things in the mind, or things that they would have seen as obstacles before, not to it like that and deal with it better. So I’ve got a lot of feedback from people saying that they that don’t have Multiple Sclerosis and they find it really, really inspiring and helped them to move forward.
PG: Even with my MS Jigsaw, I believe it could just have a life jigsaw. We could all look at the pieces that we all need to as individuals to help us move forward because we all are different. And my big thing became multiple sclerosis I had to overcome and how to be a mom- and have a family with that. Everybody has something in life that we have to overcome, demons that have to face. So we could all sit down and look our life jigsaw. What do we need? What would help us move forward? What would help us grow?
NL: Yeah. Absolutely. So, Patricia, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and congratulations on the book. I know that you will really positively affect a lot of people through that, but if people wanted to connect with you and to get their hands on the book where can we send them to do that?
PG: Visit my website at www.patriciagachagan.com
NL: Yeah. Well, I definitely have a banner here to this side, or underneath the video depending on what device you’re watching this on. So you can click on that and go straight through to Patricia’s website from there. I’ve actually been on your website. There’s quite a lot of resources there for anyone, not just the book. So, I really commend you on that and congratulations. You look fantastic and I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to chat today.
PG: Thank you so much. I’m very thankful. I couldn’t believe I got to be on Natalie Ledwell’s Inspiration Show. Thank you so much for your time.
NL: Yeah. My pleasure. So, like I said, click on the banner so you can go straight to Patricia’s website to connect with her and to purchase the book. Make sure that once this show is over, if you’re watching this on Facebook live, or on YouTube, just click the link underneath so we can you can take the 30- second quiz, so we can figure out what’s holding you back from success. So, until next time. Remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.