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What I Wish I Knew

“I started to realize that what people told me was going to happen was their story. Their story about me being MS. Not me being Andrea with MS. And there’s a difference.” – Andrea Hanson

This week’s podcast is based on my #1 blog that’s been read 1,000’s of times. (Read the original blog here.) I’m talking about what I wish I knew when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure my past self would have believed a few of these things. But once I discovered them for myself, they changed my life- for the better. My hope is that these five things help the listeners as much as they helped me.

It’s been a while since I wrote this blog, and it’s still 100% true. So I’m bringing it to the podcast.

In this episode I talk about

  • What I pretended to believe, but deep down definitely didn’t.
  • Helpful details on how to advocate for yourself when you’re getting MRI’s and other tests.
  • When we should take the money and run.

Guest Spotlight: Andrea W. Hanson

Andrea W. Hanson is a motivational speaker and the author of two books about having a positive mindset while living with a diagnosis; “Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis” and “Stop Carrying The Weight of Your MS”.

She’s also a master certified life & mindset coach who’s lived with multiple sclerosis for over two decades. Her podcast, “Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis™” features conversations with people who are creating extraordinary lives while living with chronic illness.

Andrea teaches people how to tune out the noise of their inner critic and listen to their authentic voice so they can feel confident in their ability to make changes and create the life they want.

Her online course teaches the Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis™ blueprint to help people living with a chronic illness to create self-care, deeper confidence, and helps them get back to feeling like themselves again. Get more information and join the waitlist at

Andrea loves to hike in the mountains with her Blue Heeler — and sometimes other humans, too. She’s happiest when traveling with her husband and exploring new things — or simply sitting poolside with a good book.

Connect with Andrea W. Hanson

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Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Andrea W. Hanson

[00:00:00] Andrea: Welcome to the live your life, not your diagnosis podcast. I'm Andrea Hanson, author, motivational speaker. And master certified coach. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was told. I would never reach my goals. But I did. And I'm on a mission to prove that life with a chronic illness can still be expansive and quite remarkable.
Everyone has their own unique path. I'm talking to people, living with a chronic illness that come from different backgrounds, have different points of view and are achieving amazing life goals of all kinds. To you inspire you To achieve what you thought was impossible. These stories are raw. Uncensored and judgment free. Listener discretion is advised
Hey there. It's Andrea. Thank you so much for joining me. . Today, I am bringing something that I actually wrote a while ago. Do you ever do that? Do you ever like write something make a video or whatever, and go back and look at it years later and be like,
You know what I was such a genius back then.
Like, oh my gosh. The wisdom.
Seriously though. I, uh, looked back at this. This is actually one of my most popular blog posts. Like it's been, it's been shared, it's been viewed, uh, thousands and thousands of times it's still actually. One of my top hits on my website. So I thought I would bring it to the podcast because.
I'm not saying that I was genius. But. It is really good advice at the time that I wrote it. I was working as a coach. Mostly with people who had MS. People who are newly diagnosed. With MS. With multiple sclerosis, which is what I have. I've since started working with people who have other chronic illnesses, besides MS. Some of them don't have chronic illnesses at all, but this was written when I was all about helping people with MS. People, newly diagnosed with MS.
The title is five things. I wish I knew when I was diagnosed with MS. And I remember writing this. And thinking. It was, it was like one of the unpopular opinions. At the time, you know, we ha we see those all the time now on social media unpopular opinion. Uh, that's kind of what this was. I was saying some things here that I was actually nervous to say.
But I'm really glad that I wrote it because like I said, it, it still stands true and it stands true. Not just for MS. This can really go for any, any chronic illness. So. I'm just going to go through and read the five things that I wish I knew. So number one,
Let's just get to it. What people say will happen with your MS. May never happen. Now MS is unpredictable. Most illnesses are unpredictable and yes, there are norMS. There are common things that happened. But it doesn't mean that it's going to happen. With you. It doesn't mean anything. Besides, maybe it's something that can happen.
Maybe not. And what I really had issue with is when I was first diagnosed, people were telling me. What was going to happen definitively? You are going to. Lose the ability to walk. You are going to not be able to work. You are. Going to not be able to drive. I mean, all of these things when I was first diagnosed, this is going to happen. And what I found over the years is.
Almost none of it had happened. And I started to realize that what people were telling me were going to happen. Was there story about me, their story about me being MS. Not me being Andrea.
With MS. And there's a difference. And when you see the difference between yourself and your diagnosis, and the fact that diagnosis . Looks different with different people. Once you start seeing that separation, you realize that what people say are going to happen. May never happen.
So why entertain that? If it's not happening now. Y entertain the fact that it's ever going to happen because it might not. And that feeds into number two. Which is what you expect to happen. Matters. Your expectations. Matter. Your expectations can change the outcome. Your expectations can change your reality. It could change.
What actually happens. And it's really, really important. To be aware of what you are expecting. And that sounds silly, but sometimes. In the back of our head, we're expecting something bad to happen. And that plays with number one, because if someone tells us something is going to happen, We can subtly believe them.
And be thinking in the back of our head, like I expect this to happen. And it's, it's a defense mechanism. because then if it does happen, it's like, oh, okay. I was prepared for that. See, I was correct. But what you expect is really, important. You just have to look at the placebo effect. People take a sugar pill. They take something that is not a drug, but they think it is. They expect it to work. And that efficacy rate of the placebo is 30, sometimes 60%. It matters.
So be very deliberate with what it is that you're expecting. And start to notice. Am I expecting something that somebody else told me was going to happen? Or am I expecting something that I believe is going to happen?

Number three. You can make your MRIs way more comfortable. Now, I know MRIs is something specific that people with MS. Take quite a bit. I've had dozens. I can't even tell you how many MRIs I've had, but this can go for a lot of different tests. And I think this just is in the. Advocate for yourself category.
But with an MRI specifically. You have a choice and I know you go in there and the hospital wants you to first and foremost. Put on a gown. And I don't know about you. I hate hospital gowns. I hate wearing them. It just transports me into a really icky place. I don't like them. And. If you are careful.
About what you're wearing. If you wear clothes that have no chance of having any kind of metal in them wear cotton. Don't wear anything that has any kind of, labels or something on the front. Where things that don't have any, zippers. Nothing that has metal.
. . A lot of the newer fabrics, a lot of the spandex fabrics are made with different types of metals. So don't wear your Lulu lemon. Don't wear your. Super new underwear or whatever it is, where total boring cotton, old school stuff. If you do that. You can wear your own clothes
And you're going to be fine. And if that is something that makes you more comfortable, especially when sometimes these MRIs are an hour long or more. It's worth the fight. Just come prepared.
There's also other things that you can do. And these are a lot easier, but sometimes not everybody knows about them. I like to have a washcloth and put it on my face. And a lot of times they will have stuff there. They will have towels there that you can put on your face.
I like to just put, a little washcloth or a little towel over my eyes, it helps me keep my eyes closed. I also always ask for music. And I make sure like they put it on before I get in there because it's happened where I asked them for music and I tell them to do something, just chill because a lot of times.
Now they have a lot of streaming services. And so I'm like just pick a chill. She'll station. Sometimes that backfires and you're in the MRI and it's like some crazy nonsense type of music. So you can make sure you know, what the channel is ahead of time, but ask for music or. Ask for silence. I mean, it's not going to be that silent and an MRI, but it might be in other places.
So make sure you know, what's good or what you like, what's going to make you the most comfortable. And finally something that I do. I asked for countdowns for me, I'm not going to, I'm not going to fall asleep in an MRI. There's some people who do. Uh, or other other tests. I don't. And I like to have that communication. I like to know like, Hey, this one is going to be two minutes. There's going to be three more, uh, at 30 seconds, this is going to be a five minute. I like hearing that. So I make sure to communicate with them.
And to know that this is how much time you have. I don't like going in there and not having it. Like, I don't like it to be a time warp. Like I don't want this to be a casino where I have no idea. How much longer I have. That's something for me. Something for you might be that you want no communication. And so you might ask them to just not talk to you because maybe you are someone who falls asleep.
At the end of the day. It's true for MRIs. I'm sure it's true for other tests as well. You can absolutely make your experience a lot more comfortable. You have options. Just ask for them. Don't be afraid to ask. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and come prepared. Number four. Drug companies.
Really do want to help. Now I know big pharma. Yada, yada, it's but here's the thing. Copay assistant prograMS. Exist. Unfortunately, they're not for everybody. You have to, uh, qualify. But you're probably more eligible for them than you think you are. So don't be afraid to give them a call. Don't be afraid if you are venturing in and taking a drug, which is totally fine. I have no judgment on if you take drugs or don't take drugs for your, for your diagnosis, but drugs exist. Drugs can help.
They have copays asist. Don't be afraid to give him a call. Let them know what's going on and if they can give you a co-pay assistance, take it. I used to think like, well, I I'm not hurting. Technically I can maybe pay for this or I have good insurance. I shouldn't take it away from people who need it. Okay. That is nonsense. The drug companies have more than enough.
They are willing to help you. Some of these drugs are insane how expensive they are. So. Don't be hesitant. To accept their help. I know it's the scary, evil empire. I get it. But. If they are willing to help you, if they are willing to give you whatever money you need, however much it is. Towards a treatment that works for you and a treatment that you want to take. Then take advantage. Take advantage of that while you can.
There is no shame in that.

Number five. You are strong enough. I wish I knew this when I was first diagnosed because although I was very outspoken. I was loud. I was probably quite obnoxious. When I was, when I was first diagnosed, now I'm sweet as pie. But I wish I knew. Deep deep, deep down that I was strong enough. Because I didn't.
I was scared. I didn't know if I was strong enough. I didn't know. If this thing was going to completely overtake me or not. I had no idea. And so I wish I had that deep, deep, deep down belief that I was strong enough to do it. Because I was and I still am.
And here's the other thing I realized is for me, with my MS. I didn't need it to be a fight. Because fighting. MS. Means you're fighting your body. And I know different illnesses have a different origin. They have a different way of behaving. This may not be true for you. It may be true for you. I know for MS. For auto-immune disorders. It's your body.
He has a. A different understanding of what it should be fighting. And so it is attacking our own systeMS, right? The central nervous system or our organs or our skin. Right. It's, it's attacking different things, but the thing is. If you look at it as a fight. Against MS. You're fighting against your own body.
And you're an, in a fight every single day. For the rest of your life. And that is exhausting. It is just exhausting. So I wish I knew that I was strong enough. Two. Get through this strong enough to look this in the eyes strong enough to live well. Without it being this exhausting, stressful fight all the time.
Now, these were the five things that I wish I knew. When I was first diagnosed these can apply to a lot of different diagnoses. Number one, what people say will happen with your MS. May never happen. Number two, what you expect to happen matters. Number three, you can make your MRIs way more comfortable.
Number four drug companies. Really do want to help. And again, a caveat. Doesn't matter what their motivation is. Right.
It does not matter. Take the cash. Number five is you are strong enough. And of course I love. That I did this so long ago. I love it. When you see things that you just, you believe so deeply in your core, that you just have never wavered. This is something that I wrote years and years and years ago.
In this blog, I said, bonus, staying positive. Doesn't mean unicorns and daisies all the time. And if you've been listening to this podcast or have worked with me or know anything about me, you know, this is 100%. What I believe is it does not mean. Daisies and unicorns.
For me when I realized that being positive meant. Feeling negative emotion. Being positive meant really allowing yourself to have doubts. To have quote, negative thoughts. Right. It allows you to really understand everything that's going on in your head. That is what positivity is not unicorns and daisies all the time.
When I realized that it was huge. It was huge. And I really wish I knew that when I was diagnosed, it took me some time to figure it out. But. It was a huge aha for me when I did.
Now look, I'm not mad that I didn't know these things when I was diagnosed. I didn't know any of them. I do wish somebody had told me.
my hope is that I have helped. Somebody, maybe somebody who was just diagnosed is listening. Uh, maybe these are things that can help you, even if you've been living with a diagnosis for years and years or decades. I love this list. This list is super true to me. It has really rung true for a lot of people. Really glad that I can bring it to you on the podcast.
I want to know from you. What would you add to this list? What was something that you wish you knew? When you were diagnosed. What is it? That has been a huge aha to you that you found out. Along the way. That you would love somebody else to know. Let me know. You can always get ahold of me on my website, Andrea Hanson,
That's H a N S O N.
You can always get in touch with me on Instagram. I am at Andrea W. Hanson again, H a N S O N. Or you can connect with me through the link in this episode description. Thank you so much for being here. I hope something in this list. I gave you an aha gave you a light bulb moment or has helped you maybe.
Maybe approach things a little bit differently.
And until next time, I hope you have a fantastic week. Take care. If you like the show, don't be shy. Please give us a five-star rating and review. Follow us on apple podcast, Amazon music or wherever you're listening right now. To see complete show notes and resources mentioned in this episode
visit Thank you for joining me And until next time take care

About Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast

Hear inspiring discussions with people living with chronic illness. These people went after their passions and big goals -even when everyone told them they couldn’t. Listen to stories of resilience and gratitude in the face of uncertainty.

I’m your host, Andrea W. Hanson, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Autoimmune Rebel living with multiple sclerosis. You’ll not only fall in love with these guests, but you’ll soak up positive mindset tips and ideas to find your own unique path to success.

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