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Meet - Tonisha Horton

California, USA

When were you diagnosed with MS? February 2020

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 February 2020, I received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at the age of 27, after experiencing vertigo that had been progressively worsening since the end of the previous year. The vertigo had become disabling, preventing me from putting my head in certain positions and making driving uncomfortable. I was also experiencing vision problems that were suspected to be caused by optic neuritis. Despite my suspicions, no physician agreed with my self-diagnosis until I experienced full eye deviation and underwent an MRI that confirmed the diagnosis.

The first couple of years living with MS was challenging. It felt like constant disease activity and an early MRI revealed numerous new lesions, too many to count. I was prescribed Rebif, which provided minimal relief. After the birth of my son in June 2021, I experienced a severe flare that caused weakness on the left side of my body. Finally, in September 2021, I began taking Kesimpta, which turned out to be a miracle drug for me. Everything got better and I haven't had a flare since. Currently, I am taking Ocrevus in preparation for family planning, but I anticipate switching back to Kesimpta after my next child is born. Because. it has proven to be effective in stabilizing my condition.

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

My MS symptoms vary from day to day and even throughout the day. Some days extreme temperatures affect me more than others. Stress is a significant trigger for me too. It can cause my symptoms to worsen. Ms is weird sometimes. My more chronic symptoms include fatigue and insomnia, which I manage by scheduling my physical activities earlier in the day and engaging in less strenuous tasks later on or taking a break. I avoid taking naps unless I am uncontrollably sleepy. Other symptoms that come and go include numbness in my fingers and toes, vision issues, bladder issues, and balance problems. When my symptoms persist longer than usual, I check my stress levels, my diet, I make sure to relax and take a rest day from high-intensity workouts. I also turn to bone broth for some extra healing.

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

My family is my primary source of support. My husband is my #1 go-to person. He's my rock. He patiently listens to all my fears about living with this disease and always offers unwavering support. Although my diet, functional medicine doctor, and supplements can be costly, he supports me in my efforts to maintain my health, as best as possible.

In addition, my mom also provides me with a lot of support. She makes sure that there is healthy food available for me to eat at her house and prepares special meals for me when I visit. I often joke that I would be lost without them.

#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?

I created a lot of healthy habits to stay positive and motivated.

My daily management includes:

* Spending time with God in His word and praising him for my blessings. Gratitude grounds me;

* Intermittent fasting. Although I only do 12 hr fast right now for family planning;

* My dietary regimen consists of eliminating gluten, dairy, and processed sugar, as well as excluding any food items that may aggravate my allergies or cause sensitivities.

* My integrative medicine doctor prescribes supplements for me. However, I believe that all individuals living with this disease should take Vitamin D and magnesium as supplements.

* Daily intentional movement; and

* Getting outside as much as I can.

#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 your tribe. You are not alone on this journey. Connecting with others who have MS has been a significant source of support for me. Initially, I was hesitant about Disease-Modifying Therapies (DMTs). However, by conversing with other individuals on medication, I was able to overcome my fear. Witnessing other people with MS living their lives to the fullest and listening to their experiences has also been a source of inspiration for me.

Remember, no state is permanent. Never lose hope!

Taking DMT's is not a failure nor is it a flare! This was a hard one for me. I tried for over 6 months to heal through diet and lifestyle alone, after my diagnosis. But the disease was progressing rapidly. I had multiple flares during that time. I needed medication to intervene and slow things down. Terry Wahls took medication for years before finding her natural cure! I’m still working on finding mine, and hope to one day be DMT-free. But even if that goal is not reached, that’s ok too. Do what is best for you, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

#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?

My mission is to give others hope! Although we have MS, there are still things we can control. We can control our attitudes, what we put in our bodies, how we treat our bodies, and how we move them. Even if it's limited. I truly believe there will be a cure for MS. But I don't think it will be found unless we actively keep trying to find what works for us. Terry Wahls did it. Matt Embry did it. There is hope!

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Leave a comment, and share your experience. We would love to hear from you!

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