HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I hope you’ve all had a great holiday season and that the new year brings with it a fresh start; just remember, go easy on those resolutions! 😉
As a new blogger to this site, I thought I would take a minute or two to introduce myself. I’m Ashley, a flower-loving, 30-year-old living in Port Credit Ontario. I was introduced to our complex MS-world this year, having experienced my first ‘flare-up’, Optic Neuritis in my left eye in late April. It greeted me just two weeks after I defended my thesis, and took my vision in a matter of days.
Here’s how it happened:
Monday: Headache and a dull pain behind my left eye, L-shaped floater formed by the evening. It was in my central vision field but I did not find it alarming, I figured I was just tired and stressed from school/work.
Tuesday: L-shaped floater spread to my entire eye, it looked like I was looking through a very dirty window. No matter how hard I tried or blinked, I could not see clearly and it became excruciatingly painful to move my eye in any direction.
Wednesday: I made an appointment with my optometrist and was lucky enough to get in to see her the next day. She discovered/showed me the optic neuritis, and after reviewing my family history, she recommended I see my family doctor ASAP to be tested for MS.
Thursday: I managed to convince the secretary at my GP’s office to slot me in as a double-booked appointment and was seen first thing in the morning. After a long chat and a brief physical exam, she assessed my situation as an emergency and pushed an appointment with a retina specialist.
Friday: The appointment with a retina specialist reconfirmed the neuritis and I began my precautionary journey to a neurologist who was kind enough to see me during his lunch hour. I was rushed into his office to ensure I did not have any masses on my brain, to schedule my first MRI and to receive three rounds of high-dose steroids from the ER. Oh! And just to be safe, they took blood to test for any other condition that may disguise itself as MS. I was terrified.
Looking back, that was probably the scariest, most exhausting week of my life, but despite all the added stress and anxiety I’m insanely grateful for my doctors. I’m really lucky to have them and got to see some pretty incredible people very quickly.
Fast-forward 8 months and I have about 80% of my vision back, 5 MRIs under my belt and most recently, a confirmed diagnosis. My current treatment plan includes an injection once a week, vitamins, yoga, a vegan diet, light walking and a lot of love. I’m blessed with an amazing family, friends and a boyfriend who moves my world; together they form my support group and keep me on track. I can honestly say, I don’t know who I would be without them!
In true academic fashion, I have surrounded myself with books, journals and research articles, primarily to keep my mind busy (and my new-found anxiety to a minimum), but also because I feel that knowledge is power! Although we have an unpredictable disease, being prepared for its ups and downs has provided me with a boost of confidence and has deeply encouraged me to continuing using one of my most prized possessions, my brain!
Throughout my MS journey, I have discovered a great sense of community, and it thrives on the kindness of strangers. Online support groups like this are an important part of our journey and I’m honoured to be amongst all of you. I’m proud that we’re taking these steps together by helping one another in tough times and by celebrating our victories. Often, I have turned to these support groups for clarity, advice and most importantly, well for support. I believe in these relationships and have experienced just how powerful they can be, thank you all for being here.
I consider myself to be an optimist but will be the first to admit that my anxiety can get the best of me at times, especially in the wake of my diagnosis. When I put things into perspective, I’ve realised that while I am ‘sick’, my MS does not define me, and that I have recognised the value of self-care. I feel a great sense of betrayal by my body and have had to learn who I am as a person, sister, daughter, friend and girlfriend with a chronic illness. It hasn’t been easy and I have hurt some of my relationships with pity parties that have lasted too long. However! I am learning everyday and can’t expect to get everything right on the first try, all I can do is respect myself by listening to my body, by being gentle when I make mistakes and by growing from the experience. Everyday is a new day with fresh opportunities!
To close my intro blog, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read about me, I really appreciate it and can’t wait to write more! I look forward to getting to know each of you and would love to hear any comments/questions/concerns you may have for me! Lets keep in touch!
TheFloweryOneTags: Happy New Year, Intro Blog, MS, Optic Neuritis