When were you diagnosed with MS? September 2019
What type of MS do you have? Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
#1: Can you tell us a little about your journey with MS. How did you feel about your initial diagnosis and how it has affected your life?
In June 2019, my life changed forever. I didn't know what was going on, I took a nap after being out with my great-niece at the end of June, and before I opened my eyes I could feel the room spinning. When I opened my eyes it was worse. This went on for about two months and I can honestly say this was the WORSE time in my life. Everyone who knows me, knows that I am a go-getter and I do not like laying around wasting time.
Because of the vertigo (which is what I had), I couldn't do anything but lay down, and the bad part was, I couldn't lay in my bed or on my right side without feeling nauseated. At the time my husband was overseas working and my son was working 45 minutes away from our home. Although my son wanted to stay home with me, I encouraged him to go to work and earn money in preparation for moving out and starting his own future. I am blessed because one of my brothers and his wife lives across the street and my parents are five minutes away. They were very supportive. By the end of July, my symptoms changed to stroke-like symptoms. So for 15-30 seconds, my speech would slur, I would lose control of my balance, and my left hand would shake uncontrollably. It was at that time a family member mentioned that I should find a neurologist. I reached out to my mom's neurologist; because, he helped her out a great deal. I didn't get an appointment with him until the end of August. Michael Jackson's birthday to be exact. Now mind you, I was in my last year of college and I had to stop my courses; because, of all that was going on. I didn't think I would ever go back.
So I saw my neurologist on August 29th and he explained that either I had a mini-stroke or I have Multiple Sclerosis. He immediately sent me to do an MRI which confirmed that I had MS. I thought my life was over. I cried about it, I gave it to God and then, I let it go. I told myself this is not going to beat or consume me. The worse part was telling my son because his response was "Are you going to die?" That rocked me to my core to hear that. But I assured him that Mom is not going anywhere until God says so! I started my medicine at the end of September. In October, I re-enrolled my classes. I made the Dean's list every Semester and on September 18, 2020, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Business w/Honors. Guess what, it didn't stop there! In 2021, I met three fabulous ladies in an organization for women with chronic illnesses. We were there for 3 months, and we all left for varying reasons. We stayed in contact and decided collectively to start our own organization for women diagnosed with MS. On August 29, 2021, Alpha Eta Phi Multiple Sclerosis Sorority was created. We started out with just the four of us, then in October of 2022, we welcomed 28 fantastic female MS Warriors into the organization. Our mission is to empower all people affected by Multiple Sclerosis to live their best lives despite the challenges we face. We chose Ecclesiastes 4:12..."A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken"...as the foundation for our organization because we are all in this fight together! We are not only a support group, but we are educating and advocating for our communities bringing awareness to this illness.
#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?
I still have the stoke-like symptoms mentioned above and I manage them by eating right. I started a no-meat regime after Thanksgiving 2022 and I feel great. This was a challenge for me to see how taking meat out of my diet would help with my MS. I felt great after two weeks. The sluggish feeling went away and I didn't have episodes unless I was dead tired. I also manage my MS by taking Glatmier Acetate which is the generic form of Copaxone 3x's a week.
#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?
OH MY Goodness! My Family has been a huge support!!!! Especially my son, and husband. My mom and dad have been so helpful in every way; as I am, the first and only one in our family to have MS. I am the youngest of five and the only girl, and my brothers looked out for me which, I had no doubt that they would. I have the best sisters in the world. They are my best friends. but we have been friends for so long they are my family too. Everyone has always been protective of me but after my diagnosis, they have become even more protective.
#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?
I do not at present.
#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?
First and foremost God. There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank him. He has helped me thus far and I don't see him giving up on me anytime soon! My family particularly my fur baby Midnight keeps me motivated. The ladies in my organization keep me going as well. They are a fantastic group of women and I am proud that we crossed paths via our great organizations! I sing karaoke on Paltalk and Smule, I make beaded bracelets and pens, I color, and I love spending time with my family and listening to music!
#6: Your story and experiences with MS are incredibly valuable and can provide encouragement and motivation to others in the community. What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with MS or going through a challenging time right now?
Do not give up! Do not let this disease consume you. You can still do things and have fun, you just have to find new ways to do the things you love and enjoy. The thing that I always keep in mind is that we have MS it DOES NOT have us! Keep the positivity in and the negativity out!
#7: Have you started a business or mission related to MS? Can you tell us about it and what inspired you to take this step?
As mentioned above, myself and three other fantastic warriors (Dr. Lekeia Conway, Tiffany English, and Jessica Michelle Hawk) started an organization for women who have been diagnosed or living with MS. We wanted to be a help to those in the MS community and be a source of support for those who do not have support. We also saw that a lot of people did not know much about MS, so educating, advocating, and bringing awareness is a part of our mission.
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