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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:

~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.