Tuesday, 24 May 2011

My MS Story

I had just landed my dream job as a reporter, I was finishing off my law and news writing exams and moving out of my parents’ house for the first time.
It was a hot summer that year too. All of these life altering events (and the climate) were blamed for what was happening to me.

I can see that very first day like it has just happened all over again.

A typical Sunday afternoon at my parents.
I had washed the car and gone inside to get my dinner. It's always chicken when I'm round because I can't stand red meat.
As I picked up my tray with a plate sloshing with gravy I lost the feeling in my right side, the world around me went into slow motion and I was about to fall. My short mumblings and no doubt horrified look alerted my Dad that there was a problem. His quick actions stopped the tray from smashing and me from falling with a thud.

I was helped to the ground by my terrified parents who didn't have a clue what was going on and neither did I. My immediate reaction was tears.
What has just happened?

My head went fuzzy, my arms and legs went limp.
I was shocked.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
It was soon put down to the stress of everything that I mentioned at the beginning but then it happened again.

As part of my initiation into the news hound gang I was given the fabulous task of wearing the mascot uniform during carnival week. A hot summer's day and I was dressed in a dog suit! It was great. I loved it. We all went back to the office for pizza and drinks. I drank plenty of water which is what everyone was telling me to do all the time since the first incident.
I wanted to show off my new office to my boyfriend and again I went into a state where the world slowed down and so did my right side.

I turned to smile and that was it I went down.
I couldn’t move my limbs and this time my face started to twitch.

Both incidents didn't last more than a few seconds but they're the scariest moments of my life. What was happening to me? After months of tests and a horrible lumber puncture I was called back to the neurologist.

“I’m afraid we suspect it’s MS”.

My only knowledge and only image of MS is that of someone who is bed-ridden and unable to care for herself.
My world had just crumbled.
What am I going to do? I’m 23 years-old and I’ve just been told I’ve got a condition which could potentially paralyse me.

When the self-pity faded and the realisation settled in I knew I was going to have to deal with this. I often think why me, why now but then I have to remember that life is what you make it. I’m not brave and I’m not a heroin. I’m just me. If anything, having MS has reminded that life is fragile. Where you expecting me to say something else there? Like life is short, life is sweet or life is great. But life is fragile. Seemingly simple incidents can alter your life, they can alter your perception and open up your thinking.

MS is a part of my life now. My last attack came just before Christmas 2010 and this time the pains in my arms and face were too much to handle and I went on medication for a short while. I’m currently awaiting the results of my latest scan.

It’s a huge part of life. My MS story seems mild compared to many sufferers. It some ways I feel quite embarrassed at my own feelings of upset because I have seen the worst case scenario and I’m not there, well yet anyway. Do I have the right to feel the way I do? How can I sit here writing my MS story like it was the hardest thing ever? Well, for me it was and still is. It might not be as progressive or aggressive as some people’s symptoms but my own experience of multiple sclerosis has been the most challenging part of my life to date.

Of course I wish I didn’t have it but I’m a big believer in fate and if certain life events hadn’t happened to me would I still be the ambitious and head strong person that I am today? Life is a gamble, a turn of a card which you can never fully predict. My deck seems to have a few jokers but then doesn’t everyone’s?

MS is still a disease not fully understood by the masses and is often confused with ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy).

The work of the doctors, nurses and charities is simply amazing. The support I’ve been offered is outstanding. I knew right from the first incident and the following appointments that I wasn’t alone. If I could offer any advice to someone learning about their diagnosis for the first time, it would be to use the support around you. I’ve been to the support groups; I’m a member of my local MS group and keep up-to-date with the latest news stories. It’s a big help. To read about the research being carried out or the latest fundraiser is a testament to the strength of the MS Trust, the MS Society and all those affected by the disease.

Today is World MS Day (Weds, May 25) please help support the work of the MS Trust and MS Society by using the hashtag #MSWeek on Twitter and sharing my story with your friends.

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