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Moving Forward with Multiple Sclerosis

September 4, 2013

Jessica is a young, vibrant individual I had the good fortune of being introduced to recently. Her story, positive attitude and unrelenting resolve are nothing short of inspiring. This blog post was written by Jessica, chronicling her personal health journey over the last 10 months from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis.

“Over the past 10 months I have been trying to catch a curveball that was thrown my way.  One morning, in the midst of midterms of my second last semester of university, I woke up with various symptoms that made me bed-ridden.  The room felt as if it was spinning; I had blurry vision accompanied by severe dizziness, nausea, weakness, headache, fatigue, and lack of balance.  At the time, I hoped a couple days of bed rest would eliminate the symptoms, but unfortunately I was wrong.I had visited my family doctor repeatedly but she could not understand why I was feeling this way, and thought that I was just overtired or overworked.  Her second thought was that it may have been vertigo, which would go away on its own.  Every day I told myself that I would soon be better.  I had no other choice but to remain strong, even when I felt weak and frail.  One night, however, the feeling was unbearable, leaving me no other choice but to go to the hospital.

After many long hours of waiting, blood work, a CT scan, and an ECG exam, I was told I needed a vacation.  To be honest this made no sense to me. I was flabbergasted.  In a way I was relieved that nothing was severely wrong with me, but at the same time I was frustrated with the lackadaisical attitudes of the doctors.  The symptoms subsided long enough for me to successfully complete the semester and go on vacation.  A couple of months later, new symptoms emerged.  This time my hands and feet were numb, accompanied by tingling, and other sensory disturbances. At this point, I sensed that something was wrong despite the doctor’s beliefs.  I pressured my doctor not only for an MRI scan, but also a referral to a neurologist.

When my neurologist told me there was a possibility that I experienced a clinically isolated syndrome of multiple sclerosis (MS), I was shocked.  In order to determine if this was true, I underwent endless magnetic resonance scans, blood tests, and visual, auditory and somatosensory tests over time. Given that I was an “interesting, atypical case” in the eyes of my neurologist, he suggested I proceed with a lumbar puncture.  Although this would be painful and invasive, my strength conquered my fear.

The key to this battle has been my positive attitude and support system.  When I was at my weakest point, I discovered an opportunity; an opportunity to make a difference.  I was tired of waiting for results in the dark, so I decided to register for the MS Bike Tour.  Although cycling was something entirely new, I was eager to start pedaling.  I expected the journey to be a challenge but in my eyes, a relatively small one in comparison to the challenge people are forced to face throughout the diagnosis, treatment and outcome associated with MS.

Two weeks ago, I too was diagnosed with MS, and what was once a possibility became a reality in my life.  The diagnosis, however, has not changed my perspective on life because I will not let MS define me. Instead it will allow me to inspire myself and others. I will learn how to deal with the lifestyle changes that come my way. I may shed some tears along the way, however I will quickly wipe them away and remember to keep pedaling.  There are hundreds of thousands of people who have been living with MS for many years and I too will join them in their battle.

 On September 8, I will gear up with hope, enthusiasm, and passion to end MS.  Please support me on this journey: http://mssoc.convio.net/goto/jcarnevale

~xoxo MS Independent

Jessica reminded me that we need to keep moving forward, even when it all gets a bit overwhelming. Please join me in sharing her story, checking out her webpage and cheering her on as she rides to support MS research and services this Sunday September 8th. 

5 Comments

  1. santhosh

    Dear Jessica,
    It was very hard for me to hear about your situation from Amanda ! You have a very beautiful family and friends who are going to be your strength and support. My sincere prayers at this moment and wish you the very best in moving forward to the future.

    Nadha Hassen thank you for writing this blog and very touching!

  2. Gillian

    Dear Jessica.
    You don’t know me but I want you to know that I was diagnosed with MS eleven years ago and I am fine. I live a full life, I have a great job, I am very happy, and most people would never know that I have this disease. I tell people though, so that people know that MS has many faces and so that people can say to someone newly diagnosed, “I know this woman who has MS and she is doing great!”
    Some days I have to make sure I take it easy and rest, sometimes when I want to be doing other things. I listen to my body and respect its demands, especially when it says “STOP”. I always make sure to get a full night’s sleep. I exercise and eat healthy foods and try to live as balanced a life as I can. I have struggled with depression, anxiety and fatigue, but a very mild cocktail of anti-depressants has helped me managed those symptoms very well and they haven’t bothered me much at all in the past couple of years. I have had other neurological symptoms, but they have been minor and pass with no lingering effects.
    I want you and every other newly diagnosed person to know that it’s not a death sentence. It will change your life, for sure, but that doesn’t mean you will never fulfill your dreams. Since my diagnosis, I have really come to understand how important it is to enjoy life, to travel and to have people in your life that love and support you. My life is actually better and I am kinder to myself than I ever would have been if I hadn’t been diagnosed more than a decade ago.
    I guess I am posting this comment to tell you that you are going to be ok. Maybe better than ok.
    Sending big hugs and courage,
    Gillian Kirk
    Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada

    • Jessica

      Gillian,
      A heartfelt thank you for reaching out to me, your kindness and encouragement is greatly appreciated. I am so glad to know that you are living well with MS and I too hope I will be able to follow in your footsteps. I will definitely take your advice, especially the part about listening to my body. Overall I have been very positive about everything and I will continue to remain this way. All the best for you as well. xoxo Jessica Carnevale

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