When were you diagnosed with MS? November 2012
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?
My battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) began in November 2012. Well actually, from what the neurologist told me based on the number of old lesions they found in my initial MRI, it had been attacking my brain and spine for years before my diagnosis. On a Friday morning in 2012, my arm started to tingle and began to go numb. It started with my fingers, moved up through my left arm and by the end of the day, my entire left side was numb. Of course, I ignored it at first, telling myself it was a pinched nerve. When I woke up the next morning, in addition to the numbness, I experienced what I now know as the MS hug. This prompted an ER visit where they performed a CT and I was immediately referred to an on-staff neurologist for an MRI. After undergoing a spinal tap, which was the next and worst step in the diagnosis process, my condition was confirmed on the following Wednesday.
#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?
Until recently, my way of coping would be to ignore my body's signals and push myself to continue with my daily activities. Despite experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, and tingling on different parts of my left side. However, I have now started taking my health and well-being more seriously and I am motivated by the supportive community I have built around me.
#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?
My husband Matt's support and encouragement are unmatched. We got married a few years ago and my health has taken center stage, since day one. He is truly committed to the vow "in sickness and in health". I can't wait until we can both enjoy the "in health" part of our vows. With chronic illness, caregivers are often overlooked. Although they may not experience our physical symptoms, they carry much of the load and pick us up off the floor when we can't do so ourselves. My heart has grown ten times over watching him care for me with intention and love these past few years.
#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?
#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?
As I mentioned, this is new to me. I am a Christian so my faith has always been a place of solace for me. I am beginning to learn how to better feed my body, I am taking the time I need to heal and I am reevaluating the priorities in my life to consider the things that mean the most to me.
#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?
FIND A COMMUNITY! Be it a local group or online. I use Instagram for my community. You have to connect with others that know what you are going through. Every day, I discover something new from the vast array of resources available in those groups.
#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?
I have not, but I am considering it. I think there are limited formal resources that don't include pushing medications as the only way to slow the progression of this disease. I know that food can be my biggest weapon and as a foodie, I love to cook. I can see a future where I make easy and accessible recipes that are autoimmune-focused with the goal of helping others find realistic changes they can make to combat this disease.
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