In a spiritual effort to bargain for his own health, William Boulton, now published author, promised to tell his story of struggling with MS in hopes to motivate those also struggling with personal challenges. Bashaw Municipal Library recently received a visit from Boulton as he promotes his recent book I Miss Me.
“The purpose of the book is this: inspire others. No matter what happens in life, internal or external, never let a challenge defeat you,” said Boulton.
In early 2007, Boulton, who was 21 at the time, was diagnosed with relapse or remitting MS, also known as Galloping MS. “I was playing pool with my dad and low and behold, I lost feeling in my body straight across my waist.”
Boulton didn’t think much of the phenomenon and figured his lower body had simply fallen asleep, but by the end of the pool game the feeling had spread to half his body.
The following day a doctor’s visit assured him it was a pinched nerve, yet the feeling, or lack thereof, had spread up to his neck. “We went hospital chasing.”
Boulton says he really began to worry when he was shipped to Calgary with an envelope stating ‘admit upon arrival.’ He says that was the moment his life changed forever. A doctor told him ‘there is a high chance you could be diagnosed with MS.’ “You never let that time go, it sticks with you.”
Growing up on a farm outside of Red Deer, Boulton spent his childhood working with cattle and driving tractors. “Family, my grandfather, everybody, they taught me hard work. You have to do something with yourself.”
After dabbling in the oilfield and spending more time at the farm, Boulton, along with a few business partners, decided to start their own company—Explosive Production Ltd.—which is coming out with a prototype this year and it’s intended to compete with Ticketmaster.
At the time of his diagnosis, Boulton says he was suffering from an ongoing lack of sleep and high levels of intense, negative stress. MS is an inflammatory disease where antibodies attack a person’s myelin sheath surrounding the nerves and disallows the body’s impulse messages to be sent along the nerve cells.
Although the work is theory-based, some of the speculated causes of MS include genetics, a person’s living distance from the equator, and the season they were born in.
“You can’t move your body. Sometimes you can’t taste and sometimes, I went through it, you can taste salt all the time,” said Boulton.
“I lost feeling from my neck down and I only had feeling in my right arm,” he added.
After a few months of living with the effects of MS, as he was getting used to his new disposition in life, Boulton was sitting in a chair reading a book when, within a two minute timeframe, feeling returned to his entire body.
After his body returned to a perceived normal state, Boulton quickly slipped back into his bad habits of a poor diet, lack of exercise and high stress levels for the summer months. At his young age he figured he’d beaten the disease; he, like most naïve young people, believed in his own invincibility.
By September he was back in the hospital. “Not being able to walk, talk, taste, feel and hear. They didn’t know if I was going to make it.”
Lying in his hospital bed, looking at his situation from his distraught parents’ point of view Boulton wanted to prove the doctors’ fears wrong for their sake. He said the doctors could have provided him all the help available to them, but that’s not where his survival was coming from. “The battle was with me.”
Boulton had a metal bar hanging above his bed in the hospital and he would spend hour after hour willing and fighting with his body to reach up and touch it. When it finally happened Boulton said the accomplishment felt like he had moved a mountain.
At one of his lowest points at the hospital, Boulton’s parents dropped by with some photos of the farm to cheer him up. Across the camera’s screen flashed an older picture of Boulton. “Happy, healthy, like I was unaware of what was going to happen to me later that year. And I hate to say it ,but I broke into tears and said I missed me.”
Boulton is one of the 50 per cent of those diagnosed with MS who live a drug free life. He now manages his health with many vitamins, stress management, good eating habits and listening closely to his body.
Last year, his stress levels once again reached top heights and Boulton lost feeling in his legs. “I went back to running. It was winter still and I had no feeling in my feet. It was scary and exciting when you can’t feel your feet touch the ground and you’re giving it your all.”
Boulton says one of the best parts of penning his story has been the chances to meet and talk to new people and share his life in a positive light. “Galloping MS, it’s a one-way street,” he said. “You always have a choice not to play the victim.”