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Woman finds new life through MS

Jasmine Winkelman is thankful she got multiple sclerosis (MS).

It made her slow down in life, not work so much. It caused her to appreciate and spend more time with her young sons. To actually stop and smell the roses while taking a walk.

“In a lot of ways, I started living for the first time when I got MS,” said Winkelman, who is the ambassador for the upcoming MS Walk at the Northland Arboretum.

But that appreciation didn’t happen right after her diagnosis. Instead, it would take a year and-a-half of struggling with the disease to finally accept and grow from it.

Rewind back to March 2010.

Winkelman, now 31, woke up one morning with the right side of her face, tongue and her hand numb.

Terrified, Winkelman would spend the next six weeks going between doctors, receiving diagnoses ranging from anxiety, stroke and pure confusion.

Finally, Winkelman was told she has MS. It brought her once exceptionally busy life to a halt.

The Brainerd native had held up to four jobs at times.

“It was nothing for me to work 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next day,” she said.

That was paired with raising two boys, 5 and 8, with boyfriend, Justin.

But things changed with MS.

There are good days and bad days with the disease. On a good day, you can’t tell something is ailing Winkelman. She’s peppy, boisterous and has a big smile.

On a bad day, however, Winkelman has trouble walking. Her hands and legs could be numb and she might run into door frames. Sometimes, she can’t grip anything in her hands.

A long stretch of bad days spanned for most of 2011.

The extreme fatigue, urinary incontinence, cognitive trouble and trouble speaking took its toll on Winkelman. That’s when her spirit really faded.

All Winkelman wanted to do some days was lay in bed and cry. But she has two little boys depending on her.

“They motivated me,” she said. “They kept me going.”

Slowly, her spirit blossomed back.

She first noticed it while on a walk with her son one day. He stopped to examine a rock.

“It was like it was the best thing in the world,” Winkelman recalls. “I was like ‘Yeah, let’s stop and really look at this rock. Let’s stop and smell those roses.’

“(MS) made me a better mom.”

Today, she can’t work because of the effects of MS, so Winkelman picks her boys up from school every day. She volunteers in their classes and spends more time with her nieces and nephews.

Winkelman learned to accept and adapt to the symptoms of MS and just keep pushing on.

Her outlook on life has changed since the diagnosis. She appreciates every little detail more.

“Every moment counts,” she said. “I may feel good now, but I don’t know what I will feel in two hours.”

Her message for those who also have MS is simple.

“It doesn’t have to make life worse,” she said. “It can make life better. It might be a different life, but that’s OK. ... Let it change your life. It’s OK. Sometimes we need that change.”

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at