Living with Multiple Sclerosis
I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.
A bit about me…
I was diagnosed with RRMS (Remitting, Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis) in 2006 when I experienced optic neuritis in my right eye. It was like someone placed a dirty clogged screen door over my eye. Luckily the doctors place me on steroids, and I regained my vision completely. Then a couple of months later I experienced numbness on my right side. And the numbness began to spread down my right leg, and then to my foot, then it started to travel down my right arm. This was all within a matter of days. That was really scary. Yet once again the doctors placed me on steroids, this time a nurse came out and administered the medicine intravenously. And again, I was lucky not to have any permanent nerve damage (however the bottom of my right foot is slightly numb from time to time).
After these two flare ups, my doctors told my newly engaged fiancé and me that we should start a family while I could still “function normally.” What?!? Talk about a dose of reality. It was hard to understand that while you can look at me and I look healthy and am athletic, and functioning normally, that inside my body attacking itself.
Was it crazy to start a family before we were married? The doctors sure seemed that it was a good idea. Otherwise they wanted me to begin my daily regimented injections. I was still in denial that I even had the disease, but we decided to listen to the doctors and start our little family. And we were blessed with beautiful and healthy boy/girl twins.
Luckily since then, I’ve had minor flare ups. Then in 2009 my MS doctor said she thought I had Lupus due to certain side effects. However, no one is completely in agreement over which disease I may have. So now my doctors have me taking the daily injections for MS & pills for Lupus. They are encouraging me to retake all of my tests to see if it’s one or the other or both. This entails a CAT Scan of my brain and a Lumbar Puncture (think epidural but instead of putting medicine in to block pain they are pulling out spinal fluid causing pain). I don’t mind the CAT Scans, trust me they are not fun, but they are manageable. I have been delaying my LP test as it was so painful, I can still remember the pain and it was 7 years ago when I originally had it done. I’ll write more on all of this once I receive all of the results. Hopefully they will tell me that it was all a fluke & I’m free of both diseases – God willing.
There is no known cure – yet – for Multiple Sclerosis, but I hope to see them find a cure within my lifetime. There are too many people (roughly 2.1 million people around the world) living with this devastating disease. It’s not contagious; it’s not like the flu, and scientists have no idea what triggers or causes MS.
What is MS?
I love watching Dr. Oz. He simplifies things so wonderfully that even the hardest explanations make sense to me. This is how he explains MS.
“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system. When someone has MS, that person’s own immune system attacks its own nervous system, which causes periods of vision loss, numbness, pain and an array of other symptoms.
Your nervous system consists of specialized cells called neurons, which transmit signals to and from your brain. You use neurons every time you move, walk, read, think, see, feel objects, etc. If something happens to any one of those groups of neurons, it will prevent you from doing everyday tasks you take for granted. During an MS flare up, the immune system attacks a component of the nervous system called myelin, which is a special cover on the neurons that help them work properly. It works like insulating material on electric wire; without it, the neurons become unable to function.”