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Ready, Set, MS: My Sudden and Not-So-Surprising Diagnosis

Blog Summary

I specifically remember driving away from work on a Friday afternoon feeling like I had somehow hit my elbow and it was tingling. "Weird," I thought, as I shrugged it off. I was headed to one of the last Anaheim Ducks games of the season, and I was so excited. It was late March, and a group of friends and I were going to watch from a suite, which would make it a memorable night for more than one reason.
 
I woke up to a beautiful sunny, lazy Saturday morning to take my dog, Cooper, out for a walk. I noticed that the same feeling in my elbow from the day before seemed to have migrated to both hands. As we walked around the community, the same sensation seemed to radiate up my legs from my feet, leaving me feeling a bit unsteady. I jumped in the shower, and the numbness and tingling seemed to wrap around my entire torso. Immediately, my inner monologue shouted: MS...

Making a Diagnosis of MS

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There is no avoiding it. Seeing a neurologist for evaluation of a diagnosis of MS can be very stressful. However, understanding what is needed to make a diagnosis may, at least in part, ease some of the anxiety.   Even with all the latest electronic and laboratory studies, an MS diagnosis is still one of exclusion. Unlike a positive biopsy for cancer, there is no single finding on history, exam, or diagnostic study that is unique, or only found, in persons with MS. Thus, making a diagnosis of MS remains one of excluding other diseases that can mimic MS. While this may seem easy, a recent paper from two MS centers reported that 1 out of 5 persons sent to the centers with a diagnosis of MS did not have this disease.1 More than 100 MS “look-alikes” have been described, but most are very rare, and only the most common ones are usually looked for. These include illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, lupus, Sjøgren’s disease, migraine with aura, high blood pressure, brain tumors, blood vessel inflammations and infections...

Seeing the World Through Different Eyes

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Everything was just a tad off focus– like I couldn’t get my eyes to look forward no matter how hard I tried. I asked my mom for advice, not thinking anything of it. She figured it was allergies, gave me an Allegra and sent me on my way after I convinced her I didn’t need to see a doctor; I felt better after that. My eyes returned to normal, life went on. I left for college two days later. Turns out, I wasn’t fine and things did not go back to normal. About a week into my sophomore year, I woke up one morning and had no control over my left arm. I found this out when I went to put my contact lenses in the morning of my first day of work, at my first real job, and my hand shot right past my face. I thought it was weird, but assumed I was just tired or having a “me moment.” So, off to work I went...

MS: The Third Wheel in Our Marriage

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As I helped my husband, Norm, out of bed, I couldn’t help but think to myself: how did we get here?   It’s hard to even remember the people we were when we first meet in 2006. They seem like completely different people from a completely different time. A time when motorcycles, weekends filled with friends and family and simplicity moved our world...

Lessons Learned as a Doctor Turned Patient

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As a family doctor and self-proclaimed health nut, I thought I’d never get sick. Although I saw patients every day with unexpected illness, with the right combination of a vegetarian diet + obsessive hand-washing + exercise + adequate sleep, I thought I would live to be 100. I knew the secret ingredients, the formula, for avoiding chronic disease.And then, nine years ago, I woke up dizzy. I thought I was getting a cold that would pass in a few days. But instead of a sore throat and cough, I developed double vision and taste changes...

Finding the Silver Lining

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Six summers ago, I was a broke artist living in her first NYC apartment. I was smoking, living on crackers and coffee, and refused to pay for an air conditioner and the bill that would come with it.   I lived on the 3rd floor, and it was hot—so, so terribly hot. Although I never liked the heat, it was different this time: I would sleep with bags of frozen peas because my body was so uncomfortable. Every movement felt like my limbs were on fire and being attacked by pins and needles, but I ignored it. I told myself it was due to not eating properly and that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Then one day I tried to look at my toes, and I felt like I got zapped with lightning. I ignored that, too. I ignored all the weird things that happened because I kept telling myself it was a pinched nerve...

Dear Me

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Dear Me, of three years, nine months, and 15 days ago: Your life just changed. Changed from six weeks ago before this all started. Changed from 5 a.m. this morning when Mike woke up, left side completely numb and decided to drive himself to the ER so you could get the kids off to school. Changed from an hour ago when you were sitting alone, nervously waiting for him to be out of the MRI...

Not Pre-Existing

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I can still remember the very last time I called to schedule a blood donation. Donating blood was something I used to do regularly—it was a way I could give back.   But, this particular call was the first time I tried to donate after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And that day, I learned a brand new phrase: “permanent deferral.” It’s an odd phrase, really, and full of a harsh finality...

MS, Climate Change and Kiribati

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The date was October 24, 2007. It was my second year at the University of Pittsburg’s Anthropology Ph.D. program when MS hit. Within minutes of arriving at the school’s Halloween festival, I lost my vision, ability to talk and walk. Rushed to the hospital, I was diagnosed with MS and placed on a disease-modifying therapy, Avonex, within hours.​..

Dealing with Literal Loneliness

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Being diagnosed with MS at any age is never fun, but when you’re a young person diagnosed with MS, it seems to change more in your mind than just myelin!   I was diagnosed at just 22 years old. When I came out of the hospital after my diagnosis, I had to confront what seemed like a new life...

My Resolution

Blog Summary

The holidays can be a difficult time for those living with MS. Some of us struggle with travel, or with the reminder that relationship dynamics change, and having to work double time to keep symptoms in check during flu and party seasons.   So with the start of the new year, it’s the perfect time for reflection, to gather ourselves and to perhaps  make some New Year’s resolutions...