My Story: Charlie Justice Barron

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

My journey with MS started in 2011 when I noticed weakness in my right leg. It was early spring. I distinctly remember the time of year because I had just reached my goal of starting a food truck business.

Things were going great-despite the weakness in my right leg and the new "pins and needle" feeling in the bottom of both of my feet. I honestly thought that I had been standing on my legs too much and just needed to give myself a rest and eventually get back into the gym. So that's exactly what I did.

In the gym I immediately noticed that I did not have the strength to complete even the most basic workouts without being tired and experiencing unfamiliar pain in my legs. Now I have to add here that I had been a fitness trainer previously, so I was no stranger to a hard workout.

I eventually told my wife about the leg and foot pain, and we decided that it was time to see my doctor. I detailed all of the symptoms I was having and my doctor told me that I needed to rest. So I did just that. I also got a massage which I hoped would ease the pain in my legs and help me relax and unwind. The day after that massage, I could barely move! My neck was stiff and my back was actually hurting worse than before the massage.

So, about a week passed, and back to the doctor we went. He now tells me that I may have a pinched nerve in my neck and my leg pain was likely due to sciatica. All the while the right side of my body is getting progressively weaker.

I would go back and forth to several doctors throughout 2011. A vascular surgeon for varicose veins, back to my doctor, an orthopedic surgeon for a possible bone issue, back to my doctor, a neurologist for a diagnosis of Transverse Myelitis and yet another neurologist for an "I have no idea what's wrong with you" diagnosis and back to my doctor.

One day I was actually at work feeling, for some reason, better than I had felt in months, and my wife called and said that my doctor called her and asked her to bring me to the hospital and get me checked in so they could run batteries of tests and figure out what was wrong with me. The rest of that day is a blur.

Test upon test coming back negative and I was released a week later and told to see a new neurologist (now my 3rd) because I likely had some type of nerve damage. This neurologist reviewed my MRIs and immediately referred me to the MS Center of Atlanta where I was officially diagnosed with MS.

Who has been there for you? How?

The people who have been there for me have been my family, starting with my lovely wife of 17 years and my beautiful daughter who is now a junior in high school and was 10 when I was diagnosed.

My wife has shown me what real love is in so many ways. She has been instrumental in getting appointments set, getting prescriptions filled, walking with me during the rough patches, and so on. You name, she's done it.

Then there's my wife's brother who joined "Team Barron" shortly after my diagnosis. He helped me get to physical therapy appointments, ensure my daughter got back and forth to school and continued to be there for me. He stepped in and took on several of the things that I was no longer able to do due to MS. I have also received an outpouring of support from friends and family (on my side and my wife's side of the family).

The MS community has also become a solid source of strength, networking, and comradery for me during this journey.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

The most important lifestyle change that I have had to make (and still work on getting better at daily) learning how to ask for help. As a man, asking for help can be a very hard thing to do. Especially given the nature of some of the help that you will find yourself needing after being diagnosed with a chronic illness like MS.

I've also had to learn the importance of doing the smallest of things in order to be able to accomplish the larger things. For me, my life before MS was based around speed. I was a chef and you had to move at a ridiculously rapid pace in order to be successful in this role. So learning how to slow down, relax and take it easy have also been some of the most difficult (but necessary) changes I have had to make in my journey with MS.

The MS community has also become a solid source of strength, networking, and comradery for me.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

One of the things that I am the proudest of since my MS diagnosis is starting my podcast called MS Will Lose. I created this podcast for the entire MS community as a way to motivate, uplift and inspire individuals living with MS to keep moving, to never give up.

I created this podcast because when I was first diagnosed with MS, I did not see, hear or know individuals like myself who were dealing with this disease. This podcast provides a platform that I feel is missing for my MS Warriors.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

One of the things that I am the proudest of since my MS diagnosis is starting my podcast called MS Will Lose. I created this podcast for the entire MS community as a way to motivate, uplift and inspire individuals living with MS to keep moving, to never give up.

I created this podcast because when I was first diagnosed with MS, I did not see, hear or know individuals like myself who were dealing with this disease. This podcast provides a platform that I feel is missing for my MS Warriors.

Never give up!

Never give up!

What's your advice to someone else living with multiple sclerosis?

The advice that I would give to anyone living with MS is that you can absolutely have a great life. You can overcome the challenges that MS throws your way by learning how to do things differently than you did them before MS. You can still travel, you can see the world. The only limitations you have are those you place on yourself.

I also would like individuals diagnosed with MS to know that there will be good days and there will be bad days but the key to beating MS is dealing with these days head on. If you're having a bad day, acknowledge it, accept it and see what you can do to move on. Because I can attest that it does, indeed, get better.

You can overcome the challenges that MS throws your way by learning how to do things differently than you did them before MS.

Is there anything else we should know?

I think the most important thing that I would like people to know about me is that despite MS I am resourceful, creative and I think on my feet (at least when I can stand).

Another thing would be that I have a very accomplished culinary career. I became a chef at an early age, so I have over 25 years of industry experience. I have showcased my culinary skills for past presidents and global dignitaries while serving in the United States Army. I have also been a personal trainer and chef to some of Atlanta most notable athletes and business leaders. My culinary career also afforded me the opportunity to be featured on Good Morning America during their Southeastern Food Tour.

I truly believe that life is what you make it, so why not enjoy it!

About Charlie Justice Barron

My Story: Charlie Justice Barron

My name is Charlie Justice Barron. I am a native of Atlanta, Georgia. I am a United States Army veteran, a culinary chef, entrepreneur and MS advocate. I was diagnosed with MS in 2011, an absolutely life-changing year for me.

Before MS, I had the distinct opportunity to work as a chef in some of Atlanta’s most premier restaurants. I also traveled the country as a corporate chef, opening new restaurants and building the company brand. One of the highlights of my culinary career was an appearance on Good Morning America’s Southeastern Food Tour. My passion for entrepreneurship led me to embark on several business ventures, including a catering company whereby I had the honor of serving as the official caterer for the GA State Bar Association. I also worked as a personal fitness trainer and chef to several Atlanta dignitaries and professional athletes.

MS came along led me down a path of self-reinvention. It has become my personal mission to motivate, uplift and inspire individuals living with MS to keep moving and to keep fighting no matter what obstacles they may be facing. To that end, I have created a podcast called MS Will Lose to provide a platform for the entire MS community to share ideas.

I am an active member of iConquerMS and I serve on its Engagement Committee. I am a husband and a father and, as such, I understand that I must continue to fight every day against MS. I have already defied my doctors and what they believed I would be capable of doing since my diagnosis. I have no doubt that I will beat MS and, indeed, MS Will Lose!

MSWillLose.com

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