Though I have written several blog articles and it is known that MS is an adversary of mine, how it all began still remains a mystery. Today I will shed light on this mystery. As I often reference comic book heroes, I will unmask my secret for you.
It started when I was 19 and it started out simple enough. It was a numb patch on my upper left thigh. Then the unyielding pain in my feet started, the numbness progressed all the way down my left leg. Before I knew it, both of my legs were numb and buckling at the most inopportune times. I walked with a cane at first and it then became necessary to walk on crutches. Looking back it was the small things that are what I missed most. Things like carrying a coffee cup, having a fashionable purse instead of a functional one, being able to open a door without a second thought.
It took many months, many X-rays, a CAT scan and a visit to a Neurologist to learn what the mystery illness plaguing me was. During the visit with the neurologist he had me walk, or at least my version of walk. He had me touch my chin to my chest, which sent electric shocks down my spine. It still does in fact. He checked my reflexes and asked what I could feel in my legs. He then sat on a stool in front of me. He spoke softly, clearly, and confidently the words that would turn my world upside down. He looked me square in the eyes and said I most likely had Multiple Sclerosis. It was as if he had slapped me across the face. He told me an MRI would be required, though it would most likely confirm his findings. I was in shock. It is exactly what they tell you will happen when something life altering happens, you stop listening. You tune out. He kept talking but his initial words were replaying in my mind. His last words to me that day were that I should stay off of the internet and wait for the MRI before I read the MS literature. I didn’t listen. The first thing I did when I got home was Google MS. Bad idea.
I had my first MRI on December 22, 2006. I visited my family doctor on December 29, 2006 for the results. The Neurologist was right. I had MS. I had lesions in my brain, on my C-Spine as well as on the T-Spine. I was officially diagnosed with MS on that day. Just 22 days before my 21 birthday. I received a personal telephone call from the Neurologist I visited in early December on January 03, of 2007, he wanted to make sure I had been made aware of the findings of the MRI and that I understood the implications. He said he would make sure my case was transferred to the MS clinic on the island and that if there were any questions to not hesitate to call him.
My parents were great in the weeks I spent trying to adjust after learning I had MS. My father helped me by never letting me live in denial of what was going on. I will be honest and say that I was angry for a long time. It has taken me a long time to come to peace with what has happened. I had placed my hopes of going to college on hold to deal with the immediate diagnosis and treatment discussions that needed to take place. There were a lot of unknowns in those first few months, years even when dealing with MS.
Fast forward five years. I am now 25 years old. I have made great strides in my life. I am at peace with my disease. I am well aware that I am not defined by my disease; it is simply a part of who I am. It has provided me with great challenges as well as great opportunity. I was able to recover well enough to not walk with crutches about 6 months after being diagnosed and placed on my first drug protocol. I have since been switched to a drug protocol called Tysabri. One accomplishment I did not think I would see was going to college. I can proudly say MS did not deter me from my goal. I was able to obtain a certificate in a Medical Office Assistant program and I graduated from college with highest honours in 2010.
Life with MS is not easy; however it is what we make it. Our plans may not work out exactly the way we want them to, but if you can roll with the punches things will work out one way or another. Hope goes a long way. There is a quote that I love; I have it tacked up to my bedroom wall and I see every morning when I wake up as well as every night before I go to bed. They keep things in perspective for me. If I find myself frustrated, angry or upset I just look at the words upon my wall. They will be my parting words today.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift … that’s why we call it the present” – Alice Morse EarleTags: accomplishments, diagnosed, neurologist, parents