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Unstoppable: How Trish Palmer did not let her MS diagnosis stop her from being an active travel nurse

I’m lucky in a lot of ways, but my determination to stay mentally and physically active has contributed equally to my success. I walk at least 5 miles a day, practice Pilates, hike, read, and I try to learn new things as often as I can — so far I’ve taken ski lessons, kayaking, stand up paddle […]


I’m lucky in a lot of ways, but my determination to stay mentally and physically active has contributed equally to my success. I walk at least 5 miles a day, practice Pilates, hike, read, and I try to learn new things as often as I can — so far I’ve taken ski lessons, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and calligraphy (which is getting more legible by the day)! By sharing my story and the things I’ve learned along the way, I hope to inspire others who have similar experiences.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Trish Palmer. Trish worked as a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse at OhioHealth Riverside Hospital for the past eleven years. As a travel nurse, she is often on the road and recently relocated to Seattle, Washington for several assignments. Despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about fives year ago, Trish remains very active and is always looking for her next outdoor adventure!


Thank you so much for doing this with us Trish! What is your “backstory”?

Thanks for letting me share! I’m 35 years old, and I was raised in Columbus, Ohio by my wonderful and patient mother. I’m currently living in Seattle, Washington, where I work as a travel nurse. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest in 2017 when visiting a friend in Seattle. There are mountains, beaches, lakes and beautiful views everywhere you look. From warm, sunny eastern Washington to the lush, green Olympic peninsula, there are gorgeous places within an hour of Seattle in every direction. I saw so many opportunities here!

As soon as I returned home from that trip, I planned to leave my nursing job in Ohio, which I loved very much, for one as a travel nurse. Travel nursing combines the flexibility of 13-week job assignments with the steady, dependable job market of nursing. I came here in June of 2018 and I haven’t looked back. On weekends, I enjoy camping and hiking. Exploring Seattle is always an adventure as well — with some hills that rival San Francisco streets, I’ve become quite the urban adventurer. I started taking pilates lessons to strengthen my body and further improve my physical health and stamina. I absolutely love it!

Can you share the story of how you became became ill, and what you did to not let it stop you?

Shortly after I turned 30, I woke up with numbness and tingling from the top of my head to my toes. I ignored it, hoping it would go away, and of course it didn’t. After worsening symptoms of weakness, I was admitted to the hospital and after further testing was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was terrified at first, and the sight of someone under 80 in a wheelchair made me sob. I thought, ‘is that going to be me?’ I took the time to learn more about MS and how it affects each individual differently. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue, vision or memory problems, and difficulty walking. With the help of a wonderful support group, family and amazing friends, I got over my apprehension of the future. For me, I know that I can only affect what I have control over — following medical recommendations, decreasing stress, and taking care of my body.

Can you tell us about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your illness ?

Being a travel nurse gives me a remarkable feeling of independence, and I wouldn’t be here without Ocrevus, the treatment for my multiple sclerosis. Thanks to the freedom of a twice a year dosing schedule, I’m able to go back home to receive my infusions. No refills, no injections, and I only have to think about it every 6 months. For me, it’s super convenient and allows me to live the life I want. Personally, I credit Ocrevus with allowing me to remain relapse free for over 2 years now, so I can continue to go on adventures and visit more of our beautiful country!

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

In my experience, when you let people in, everyone benefits. Allow people to help you, and talk to them honestly when they ask about you. I guarantee there’s a person in your life who has asked, “How can I help?” — let them!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Honestly, it was mostly me. My family and friends were supportive and helpful but if it weren’t for my own stubbornness, I wouldn’t be doing the things I want to do now. Early on in my journey, I was encouraged by some people in my life to stay close to home, avoid taking risks, and kind of behave like a sick person. Some advised against traveling, saying that it would only exacerbate my stress. On the contrary, I think that quitting my sedentary job and setting out to see the country was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’ve had some of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’m going to keep traveling as long as I can.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’m lucky in a lot of ways, but my determination to stay mentally and physically active has contributed equally to my success. I walk at least 5 miles a day, practice Pilates, hike, read, and I try to learn new things as often as I can — so far I’ve taken ski lessons, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and calligraphy (which is getting more legible by the day)! By sharing my story and the things I’ve learned along the way, I hope to inspire others who have similar experiences.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood/knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

  • “No” is a complete sentence. If someone tells you no, that’s their final answer.
  • Some people have physical disabilities that don’t manifest all the time. In some cases, they might be ‘fine’ until they’re tired, then they have trouble walking or thinking.
  • In my experience, everyone just wants to be treated like a person. Don’t ignore someone’s disability, but don’t make it the focus of every interaction.
  • Does a physical limitation prevent someone from enjoying an activity? Just ask!
  • Not everyone with physical limitations has the same goals. Like every other human, we’re all different.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.” — Carl Sagan

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Elon Musk. I just want to know what he’d order for breakfast.

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