At age 29, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. Receiving a label for my symptoms offered several benefits. It’s not possible to treat whatever is wrong until you know what you’re actually attempting to manage.
Having a name for my multiple symptoms also confirmed that something was seriously wrong with my health; I was not merely a hypochondriac, desperately in need of outward attention.
I tried to immerse myself in learning all that I could about MS. It was not lost on me that I had been diagnosed with a relatively less severe form of this chronic neurological disease. Most thankfully, I had not initially received a diagnosis of primary-progressive MS.
This type of MS is characterized by continuous decline, from the very beginning of disease onset. Nevertheless, all of these facts did not erase my deep fears about how I might eventually be impacted by having MS.
During my first year of living with MS, I suffered from several serious exacerbations, or disease attacks. I stumbled frequently as I attempted to walk, swaying back and forth. I was thankful to use a shopping cart as an assistive device, being well aware that I would have definitely fallen without using it.
At times, I completely lost the ability to walk. I couldn’t help but question if I would eventually need to use a wheelchair, on a long-term basis. Even when my ability to walk was not more dramatically affected, I continued to suffer from pervasive numbness.
For several months, I could not feel my body below my waist. Stunningly enough, I was still attending graduate school full-time. I was also a single mother, with a six-year-old daughter.
Only two months after my MS diagnosis, she was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes. It was very much an understatenent to say that I felt completely overwhelmed, every single day of my life.
During the day, I tried my best to focus on all of the demands at hand. At the end of the day, tears freely flowed. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep. Without a doubt, I knew just how dramatically your life is capable of changing, in a relatively brief period of time.