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Meet - Paris Smith

Georgia, USA

When were you diagnosed with MS? May 2015

What type of MS do you have? Relapse-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 name is Paris and in 2015, I was diagnosed with Relapse-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at work and I had been having this horrible migraine close to my left eye. The migraines kept getting worse and my vision kept getting worse. One day, I woke up and my central vision was completely gone. I left work and went to see my ophthalmologist. They did a visual field exam on me. I remember the doctor came back in there and showed me the papers from my left eye and my right eye. In my left eye, there was a big circle in the middle and all I remember is her saying “You need to get an MRI now”.

So I left there and drove back to work and told my nurse manager, I had to leave. The hospital was right next to the clinic I worked at, so they sent the orders over and I had my MRI done. It was a blessing. Because, I worked with the wife of the MRI tech that did my scan. She was a nurse at the clinic. He showed me my scan and he told me that the spots that were lit up were lesions and it could possibly be MS. I went back to work not being diagnosed yet. At the time, I worked with a neurosurgeon and I showed him my scan. He said, “Whoever's scan this is, they need to go to the hospital to start steroids”. The doctor I worked for gave me his keys and sent me to another ophthalmologist. They did some more testing and I still did not know what was going on. The doctor told me I could possibly have MS, but I needed to see a neurologist quickly.

I went back to work because, I worked at a neurology/neuroscience clinic. He saw me immediately and sent me to a place where I could start IV steroids. They finally finished all my testing and I found out what I feared the most. I had Relapse-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. My heart was torn; because, I had no family history of it. Throughout these past years, I’ve had multiple relapses. The worse one I had was in 2017. I was so stressed because of everything that I had going on in my life, at the time. My body just broke down. I couldn’t walk and I was in a rehab facility for 3 months. I had extreme spasms and spasticity. I went into fight mode. I knew I couldn’t be like this. I went through depression, anger and thought why was this happening to me? But in spite of everything that was going on, I started to see the beauty in it. I began to share my story publicly. The good and the bad. I knew I had to help someone who was dealing with the same thing, I was going through. This was just temporary! I was going to beat the odds and fight this disease that had me wheelchair-bound. I was going to walk again. By mid-summer 2018, I began to walk again. I felt so liberated that I tackled such a disease. I was so proud of myself and I began to say, I was beautiful. Being on steroids makes you gain weight and you start to feel self-conscious about yourself. You go through all these emotions of not feeling your best...but yet you push through!

#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?

I mostly deal with blurry vision in my left eye and migraines.

#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?

I would definitely say my family and the social media supporters who have seen me at my best and my worse moments in my MS journey.

#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?

I don’t anymore.

#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?

With all the relapses I’ve had throughout the years, I keep my mind in a positive space. God has brought me through a lot. Going through everything I went through with my MS, I learned to keep a positive mindset and to keep myself motivated to stay in a great headspace. I do a lot of writing and listening to calming music. I pray a lot as well. When I am not feeling my best I try to do a mask or do some retail therapy.

#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?

I would say stay positive! As hard as it may be just keep a positive mindset. Keep a supportive group around you even if it’s just one person. Try to stay as stress-free as possible. We all know that stress triggers relapses, so try to do whatever it is that makes you happy and at peace.

#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 haven’t started a business. But I recently tackled breast cancer too so I came up with the hashtag #beautifulwithmsandcancer. They are two different journeys that I’ve walked through and I aspire to help and uplift others dealing with both diseases.

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