As a child I watched my Grandfather, a tough Italian immigrant and 10th mountain division solider suffer without relief. He begged us to die. The disease terrified me. I had my first symptoms 12 years ago with Optic Neuritis, no one took it seriously. It resolved in 6 weeks and no one but my eye doctor jumped up and down wanting further testing for MS. So I continued to ignore the numbness, weakness, bladder spasms and fatigue for years. I had a pcp who did not feel an MRI or a neurology consult was necessary.I am an RN and worked with many people who knew I had MS but was not being treated. My flares only came every 2-3 yrs and resolved. I lived in NY and while I was very active, it was not so warm that a cool off in the pool would not help, I also worked nights so I was not awake during the warmest days.
2 months ago I exhausted myself on a warm day on a 16 mile hike up and down the tallest mountain in NM. I lost control of my bladder and my R leg became spastic with 4.5 miles left to go. All my husband could do was cool me off in a running spring and pray I did not fall off the 1 1/2 foot wide steep trail down. I was able to see a neurologist here who finally confirmed my diagnosis and began treated the pain and spasms, unfortunately my vision loss is not coming back.
My biggest challenge is getting up everyday a bit earlier than usual to wait for my sea legs to return. I am blessed with a husband who stands by my side and helps me walk when I no longer can at the end of the day. My physical therapist helps me understand the process better, teaches me how to breathe properly and accept the physical limitations I have which honestly, I have a hard time adjusting to. I am patiently waiting, for the day I can return to Yoga class and hike that darn mountain again, this time taking the Tram down.
I would tell someone new to MS to fight, stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can and never give up. I do not intend to ever give up. I pray everyday for a cure for future generations and hope for one in mine. Getting the word out and helping with fundraising towards a cure is the only way to help cure this disease.