Hi, I’m new here. I tend to not use my actual name on sites, but you can call me Claude. Sorry this is going to be long, but I wanted to share my story as an introduction. Hope that’s okay. :)
I was diagnosed with MS in 2017 on my 27th birthday. It was during my last year of optometry school, which consisted of four externships in various places across the country. Looking back, my symptoms most likely began in October 2016, when I was experiencing transient spasticity in my legs that couldn’t be explained at the time, but it stopped after a month or so. It wasn’t until March 2017 that I had severe vision loss in my left eye due to optic neuritis that lead to the referral to neurology. As an optometry student at the time, it was so surreal to be experiencing something I studied about. I found myself thinking from the perspective of an eye doctor, only to remind myself that I was the patient. I got to review my brain MRI with the physicians and recognized not only the inflammation of my left optic nerve, the MS plaques throughout my brain. At the time, I thought I had accepted my diagnosis, and took the time to share my case with my fellow schoolmates as a way to show that some things aren’t perfectly textbook. I was surrounded by a supportive group of friends and faculty who at least had knowledge of the condition. I managed to graduate on time with my class in May.
However, things haven’t been going so smoothly since returning home. Due to the flare I had, it delayed my licensure process by months. Finding the right medication for me has been difficult with insurance setting up hoops to jump through, and I’ve been experiencing transient tingling, numbness, and spasticity more often lately - it has affected my ability to walk long distances when it hasn’t before. It’s been so frustrating. Although I am with my parents and friends I grew up with, it’s difficult to explain to them what I’m going through.
It has always been a dream of mine to become an optometrist. I’ve been working towards it for 17 years. I want to help people not just see better, but to be able to do the things they love by making sure that their vision and eye health is at its best - and the scope of practice is expanding. I thought that once I graduated, I could jump right into seeing patients, but that isn’t the case. I’ve been told over and over again by people that before I can take care of others, I need to take care of myself. It has always been so difficult for me to do that, but right now... it’s a mantra I have to remind myself over and over while I’m in the process of working things out.
I wanted to find a community I could talk about MS with - It’s so different to be a doctor versus a patient, and while I’ve been trained to be the former, I could really use the support as the latter. I’m hoping that by sharing my story and listening to others’ stories, I can contribute in a small way and learn more about MS as a patient who has it.
All that said, I’m meeting with my new neurologist next week to discuss switching medications again. I may have to switch to injections, depending on if Tecfidera - the initial medication I was on before my last neurologist took me off of it for a mistaken reason - is still an option. What is it like to be on injections? What are the pros and cons of it? Would you say that you get used to it?
Also, since I mentioned my recent symptoms, is there anything that can help with muscle spasticity? Although it lasts a few minutes at a time, I get it a few times a day and it’s become frustrating and even painful.