A journey of staying positive
by Staff Writer
by Lauren Dunn
HUNTERSVILLE – Tracey Wolsko will soon celebrate her 40th birthday. She works 8 to12 hours a day Mondays through Thursdays at Bank of America. She likes boating with her husband, Brian, spending afternoons with her three rat terriers.
Put short, she enjoys each day regardless of her multiple sclerosis, so don’t throw any undue sympathy her way.
“People say ‘oh my God, I’m so sorry,’ but I’m like ‘I don’t understand why you’re sorry. There’s nothing to be sorry about’,” Wolsko said. “I’m all about the positive. I don’t know what’s around the corner for me, but I live in the here and now. I make the best of it.”
She’ll take her positive message and upbeat attitude more than 125 miles during the National MS Society’s Great Gatsby Gala, Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach later this year.
Wolsko was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on Aug. 20, 2010, after suffering from “sporadic vertigo” and facial pain and tingling became a nuisance. Symptoms she still suffers with today.
The diagnosis was shocking but it wasn’t the scariest thing she’s ever heard. That distinction belongs to now-famous pilot Sully Sullenberger when he calmly called out “brace for impact,” seconds before US Airways Flight 1549 plunged into the icy waters of the Hudson River.
Wolsko was traveling home from New York City on Jan. 15, 2009, when her plane made headlines with the risky crash emergency landing in the Hudson River and caught the attention of the world.
“I never thought I was going to die,” Wolsko said. She even told a nearby passenger not to call her husband to say goodbye because they were “going to be alright”.
“(The crash) still haunts me more so than the MS diagnosis a year later.” Wolsko said. “I think the plane crash prepared me in some weird way.”
After her diagnosis, handed down weeks from her 39th birthday, Wolsko and her husband took a trip to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. Though the trip was meant to be a relaxing retreat, Wolsko was so shaken by the diagnosis she decided to head home early.
With mounting fears, anger and the ever present “what ifs,” Wolsko had to come to terms with her disease.
“I had two decisions,” Wolsko said. “I could continue moving forward and living my life and know that at any point in time anything can happen or just sit in my house and wallow.”
Wolsko has now moved past the “fear of the unknown” of her disease and embraces it as an “odd blessing.” She is participating in the National MS Society’s Great Gatsby Gala, Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach, and whatever else she can, though she’ll admit at times she does get tired, has to “cry uncle” and rely on her close-knit support system for help.
“I try to be understanding and supportive. I know she can’t be in the heat, so we work around the weather. I know she needs her sleep, so I understand when she goes to bed early,” Brian Wolsko said, adding that his wife’s great attitude has helped them “make the best of things.”
On Sept. 24 and 25, Tracey and Brian will bike 125 miles from Charlotte to Sunset Beach for the 26th annual Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach Ride in hopes of raising at least $1,000 for the cause.
She’s already purchased a table at the Great Gatsby Gala and is offering her beach condo for rental through their silent auction.
Coping with multiple sclerosis has given Wolsko a new sense of living. Though her treatments include a three times a week shot and she’s become the permanent designated driver of her friends, she says she now eats healthier, exercises more and devotes more time to living her life instead of worrying about losing it.
She learned that lesson from her brief stint standing on the wing of a plane in the middle of the Hudson River.
“Since Jan. 15, 2009,” she said, “every day is a gift.”
Want to help?
To donate to Tracey go to www.nationalmssociety.org and locate her team “Team Wolsko” under Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach.