Aaron Solowoniuk of Billy Talent rocks on with MS
Aaron Solowoniuk is the drummer of the hit Canadian band Billy Talent which is recognized around the world for their spirit, attitude and explosive rebel music. Aaron has been with the group from the beginning. He recently posted a letter to fans describing his experiences with MS - you can view the whole letter at www.billytalent.com
The first song on our first record is called "This Is How It Goes". It's a song about one of Ben's friends who has multiple sclerosis. Today I would like to let you know that I am that friend with MS.
It was November of 1997, I had just started a new job at Daimler Chrysler building the new Intrepid, Concorde and 300M. I was making more money, and I could take off more time to play shows with my band Pezz. Days after starting my new job I got a strange numbness in my legs. I couldn't walk for more than five minutes without having to sit down because of this pain in my legs. I thought it was just because this job was a lot more physically demanding then my last job.
After months of tests I was told that I probably had MS but a full diagnosis couldn't be made until I had another symptom within two years.
In November of 1998 the numbness in my legs was gone but I could make it come back by bending my neck forward. This would also send a feeling of an electrical shock to my feet. Just a couple months later in January of 1999, I suddenly got an awful pain in my left eye. It was like being punched in the eye by a ghost. I went straight to my eye doctor; he told me I had optic neuritis.
When I told this to my neurologist, I found out that it's very common for people with MS and the disease was progressing. He wanted me to start a new type of medicine. I had to self-inject myself three times a week in the arm, thigh, stomach or butt – and do this for the rest of my life.
I practically ran out of the doctor's office and into the stairwell with my girlfriend close behind me. We cried in the stairwell for a while and then went right over to my parents' house. Through all of this madness, I was so lucky to have my girlfriend, who is now my wife and the mother of our amazing daughter, beside me.
Coming to terms with the fact that I had to start giving myself needles forever was really hard. A couple of the side effects really hit me once I started the medication. I fell into a deep depression and started seeing a psychiatrist. I really felt like my life was falling apart. I had always wanted to be a drummer in a rock band but was told I should "take it easy". I remember saying "ya right" in my head: none of my dreams had come true and I now had an incurable disease.
It was really rough for the first year and a half but the new medicine started to work. The MS Society of Canada helped me get all the information and tools to get my life back on track. My symptoms were gone, and when they did come back they were just minor set backs.
We changed the name of the band from Pezz to Billy Talent and continued writing music. We released a four song EP and got a record deal. I quit my job and started playing drums full time.
After recording our first record it was time to go on tour. Our first record took us across Canada five times, America four times, Germany five times, the UK four times and a weekend in Japan. I've also met a lot of my musical heroes and even become friends with a couple of them.
I guess the reason I'm telling you this is because I didn't let something like MS get in the way of me becoming who I was suppose to become.
Please share this story with anyone you think it would help. There are a lot of people young and old that are fighting some sort of disease and thinking that they can't win. You really can win if you believe in yourself.
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