Varying degrees of numbness and tingling in my forearms-went away. Nonstop itching in my forearms with air conditioning blowing on them, intolerable-went away. Blurry vision in one eye three days after vaccines taken for trip to Africa-went away (trip postponed). MRI, lumbar puncture (spinal tap), looks like MS but will have to wait for more symptoms. Numbness and tingling down one leg and toes felt like plump sausages but visually no swelling-went away. Visual evoked potential, repeat MRI-Yep MS. All that took roughly 5 yrs. Since being diagnosed in 2000 with MS, my journey spiritually, mentally, physically and professionally has been redefined multiple times but generally for the good.
Because I had been in the healthcare industry for 9 years by the time I was diagnosed, I knew the lingo, the docs, the tests. What I didn’t know about was the treatments available. Was little ‘ol Anchorage AK up to speed on the latest and greatest? Having ties with friends at UCLA Medical Center (near my hometown), I found out that, yes, they were and are! So, no second opinion needed for diagnosis or treatment recommendations.
My first two years were still a whirlwind of gaining knowledge of the disease, treatments, how to give myself shots and how to cope. I was 34, never been married, no kids but hope to have both someday. I was in a lucrative career as an Occupational Therapist. My profession gave me more understanding of adaptations that MAY be needed over time. I wasn’t scared about the future because my symptoms were more annoying than disabling. There were also the ABC disease modifying drugs that had been out 3-5yrs so They had some weight there efficacy. My Mom (who lived in CA) and I participated in the Huega Center’s “Can Do” program. Wow, what a wonderful way to learn that MS is a part of my life but is not ALL my life!
With that new perspective, I continued to live my life as I had been, working in a career I loved, buying my first house, getting married, having a child. I didn’t realize until just a few months ago that I had done many physical challenges in those years more to prove to myself that MS didn’t change me even though I think it had. Some of those challenges were
- 26 mile rugged marathon mountain trail (Crow Creek Pass) in 3 ½ days,
- 50 mile, 3 day walk for the NMSS (National MS Society),
- 2 sprint triathlons
- A half marathon
- An MS 150 bike event for NMSS
Being pregnant (’07) and the subsequent birth of my son (’08) limited me physically as I began experiencing unbelievable nerve pain in the right side of my head, face and neck. It became predictably unpredictable but I was able to keep working full time for the first year (it lasted two) then came the car accident (’09) which shattered my knee one week shy of my son’s first birthday.
The last few years have been quite a challenge for me physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually since the car crash. I have emerged a stronger, more compassionate, more insightful person by the grace of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Stairs and bike riding remain difficult, while running/jogging and kneeling are nearly impossible to do comfortably or safely. Having MS has slowed me a bit in my recovery but with the support of the National MS Society (NMSS) emotionally, mentally, even financially, I am more prepared to face whatever lies ahead.
That said, I am putting myself out on a limb to raise money for NMSS in a biking event the second weekend in Sept. 2011. It is set in our beautiful state of Alaska.