I was diagnosed with MS in 2005, shortly after graduating with a double BA in Psychology/Criminal Justice. I was in Reno celebrating my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, and I started seeing fuzzy spots - I thought at first it was just the smoke, or the lights, but as we drove home, my vision slowly started cutting off! By the time I made it to the ER, I had lost about 90% of my eyesight, and that night was diagnosed with RetroBulbar Optic Neuritic. . Caused by MS, what a shock to me! Looking back at that last year of college, I see now the struggle I was having not only at my school work, but at relationships as well. I was forgetful, moody, exhausted; I attributed it to 18 units+labs+ 2 jobs, but 95% of it was because of the MS.
My life changed drastically that night, I went on a bit of a downward spiral mentally, physically and spiritually. I had gone from a straight A student who would quote you a chapter after reading it once, to not being able to tell you my phone number. I regained my eyesight (and lost it and gained it again 4 times!), thanks to Methylprednisilone and months of prednisone. Talk about the weight gain?! The first few years of my diagnosis are a bit of a blur, a whole lot of downs with very few ups. I lost about 90% of what I concentrated on at college (psychology/theory - I say the brain lesions ate it). The MS caused severe fatigue, the medicine compounded that, the depression topped it off. I would go to bed, get 8 hours of sleep and wake up exhausted, I was in a major crisis, and went to my mom with very bad thoughts, I told her I would sit there and think about different ways to take myself out, that it was the only time my brain was calm. I couldn't control my emotions - I would go from perfectly calm, to raging over nothing (literally foaming at the mouth), I pretty much ran all my friends off those first few years, I was that terrible.
My mom didn't know what to do, she was scared for me, of who I was becoming, and her solution was a ball of fluff named Saphira (Yorkie). The moment I got her? This was the turning point for me. I don't know what it is about puppies, maybe that unconditional love, that instant bond and loyalty? But she grounded me. I started leaving the house again, I started smiling and laughing, she literally pulled me out of the darkest days of my life.
I started out on Copaxone, and it worked well at stopping the brain lesions, but after about 2 years I became immune to it, and have been on Rebif ever since. Rebif was a pretty rough transition for me - the fevers were terrible, half my hair fell out, the welts were horrendous. BUT IT WORKED!. It took about a year and a half to fully acclimate to the medicine, but I started noticing huge changes. I was feeling like the old me, I had memories coming back that I thought were gone forever, I was beginning to get flash backs of things I'd learned in school. My mood stabilized, I haven't had a grr argh rage in a LONG time.
It took about 10 years of the disease controlling my life for me to gain some semblance of control over it. I know now don't get hot, cold or stressed. I go on walks in the summer with an ice vest, I'm spontaneous, I don't let the MS dictate what I will and won't do.