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Your Healthy Family: Fort Myers man shares what it's like to live with MS

Posted at 8:07 AM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 08:07:33-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — May 30th is World MS Day. Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information between the brain and body. A Fort Myers man who's life revolves around health and fitness was diagnosed with MS less than a year ago, and shared with Fox 4 the impacts of his diagnosis.

"It makes you see the good that comes from every situation," Mike DeLeo said. "Your cherish every moment that you get."

That's the mindset DeLeo carries with him every single day when he walks into his gym.

"DreamFit was always a dream of mine," he said. "It's actually an acronym. It stands for dedication, results, education, accountability and motivation," he said.

He opened DreamFit on January 1st, 2020, but he didn't know at the time how much weight those words would carry.

"I was only diagnosed with MS about 10-11 months ago," he said.

His wife Tiffany was 8 months pregnant with their first child. When he told her he felt tingling in his feet for several days, she made him go to a neurologist.

"It was very hard to sit there and go through all the testing. Especially knowing how she was pregnant. And it was very hard just to realize that something could be wrong," he said. "And when the MRI results came back and there were lesions all throughout my brain and cervical, thoracic spine, we got the diagnosis of MS."

At first, DeLeo said he couldn't believe it.

"I was shocked to receive the results because of how healthy of a lifestyle that I live. Once I was able to process it a little bit more, it made complete sense," he said.

He said over the last 15 years, he would randomly have issues with his speech or vision. His diagnosis now explains why. What DeLeo was dealing with were flare ups of his MS.

"I guess the easiest way to describe it is the signals from your brain get clouded. The nerves and the receptors, they don't pick up the signals as they should," DeLeo said. "Actually, I'm in the midst of a flare up right now where my grip strength in my hands is gone on at this point. It's very difficult to grab and hold on and pick things up. And that's been going on for about six, seven weeks right now."

But DeLeo said that's not stopping him from living his life to the fullest. He said his wife, Tiffany has been there every step of the way.

"She's been there through everything. Every treatment, every diagnosis. She's just there holding my hand and saying we'll get through it together," he said.

His baby girl Isabella Grace is his motivation.

"She is my best friend. She is daddy's girl," he said. "I will be around to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. I will be there to teach her how to ride a bike. I will be there for everything for her. I do this all for her."

And he said his clients keep him going.

"When the day and time comes that I can't do this anymore, I could still be here. There might be a day that I might not be on the floor anymore. But there's no reason that I can't be here sharing my story with others," DeLeo said. "Every day is a gift, and I'm not going to squander that gift for anything. I'm going to live my life to the fullest."

DeLeo said he gets drug infusions every six months to keep the growth and spread of his MS at bay. He does jiu jitsu and strength training, which he said helps his mind-muscle connection.

He said if you notice strange symptoms like his, make sure to get checked with your doctor.

To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis, click here.