It was around 2000 when I noticed that the very tips of the fingers on my left hand were tingling and not acting right. Being a professional Dive Master, I didn't say anything to anyone for fear that it would have an adverse effect on my diving or my ability to continue teaching. In 2005, the love of my life and I got married. We went to Epcot Center so I could dive the exhibit called The living Seas ( the name has since been changed). I first rode the ride called Mission Space then Ran through the park to meet my dive group at the prescribed time. Everything went off without a hitch and the dive was GREAT. That was on a Thursday evening. By Saturday morning I began to feel kinda green, something wasn't right. We went to Jacksonville for New Years at some friends. I continued to feel worse as time passed. No cheering in the new year for me. On the way home I had to pull over and get my wife to finish the last three hours of driving because my vision was VERY blurry. We get home, I continue to get worse, miss a few days of work and spend 17 days in the Hospital so they can try to figure out why I can't hold down any food or drink. They FINALLY determine that I have extremely severe vertigo. They prescribe me Meclazine and send me home. I began taking that pill 2x a day so I could walk without appearing drunk. As the years continued to pass, the numbness and tingling kept slowly creeping into my fingers and then my forearm. At this point I just quit using it so people wouldn't notice my problem. It is amazing what you can hide from people right out in plain sight. Today about 85% of my left arm is numb and weak.
I was rear ended in an auto accident in Aug. 2010 and began to have walking problems. I tried my usual self healing thing that I had always done and it just didn't seem to help. I kept getting worse. I finally told my wife that there was something wrong with my body and I needed help. The Chiropractor found herniated, bulging disks in my neck so he sent me to a Nuerologist who did nerve conductivity test and reflex tests and never said anything about MS. He said he thought I had had a stroke and he pushed for surgery on my neck right away. When the Nuero-surgeon reviewed my MRI. I was admitted to the hospital and the tests began. Upon getting the results, he sent me to another Nuerologist, She confirmed the diagnosis and so the real journey began. Right then I KNEW without a doubt that my life as I was accustomed to living it, was over. OH, hello depression, how are you? ...Oh me, no I'm good....well I did just find out that I have MS. There's no way! I'm too healthy and active, someone has made a HUGE mistake. Now things begin to get really interesting.My ability to walk was worsening and my ability to run had become non existent. Bye bye church softball. The ability to walk on the beach with my wife soon followed. As the new realities began to set in, the anger and frustration became the dominant feelings that I wrestled with on a daily basis. I soon became consumed with the battle against MS. I will NOT back down, I will NOT quit and I will NOT be defeated! Famous last words! I did not back down, I did not quit but I was defeated. I say that but mean this... I was defeated ONLY in the sense that there is no cure for MS yet. So, I keep fighting against the limitations and refuse to let myself get lost in and consumed by the never ending plight what is MS. I struggle each and every morning to get up and function with a smile on my face. Some days the smile is bigger than others. I say my morning prayers and continue to press forward.
I find myself being overly apologetic for being so slow to those around me. I am becoming very nervous in crowds where there is a lot of activity and noise. This eliminates my joy of singing in the choir or going to watch my buddies band play. I used to assist with teaching Scuba classes and love to teach and help others learn new things. So naturally, I was asked often to help or assist someone else. I get great joy out of helping others. Before MS, I was an AVID scuba diver. I would dive 3 days a week minimum, plus the weekends. Now, I can still dive but I require A LOT of assistance getting geared up. It makes me sad to know that I used to help wounded warriors enjoy the awesomeness of scuba and now I have to have aid or I can't go.
I guess the biggest hurdle to over come is the NECESSITY to let go of your previous self. You are not THAT guy anymore. Receive great joy from that what you are still able to do because there is no guarantee that you will be able to do it tomorrow.
The ability to accept and understand PATIENCE is very important for EVERYONE who is in your life, that includes YOU!It is an extremely humiliating and humbling experience when your wife begins opening the door for you, pulling your chair out, cutting your meat or carrying your tray at the buffet. These are the things that I am supposed to do for her. I began to question my worth as a man. My decision was that I had become worthless as a man, a husband and a provider for my family. OH, hello depression. Through all of this crazy and depressing story I hope all who read it will gain one tid-bit of knowledge, MS will NOT kill you, (the decisions you make after learning you have this disease might though). THERE IS LIFE AFTER MS. It may be different than that what you are accustomed to but it can be fulfilling all the same.