When I heard the words Multiple Sclerosis I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t even really know what it meant. That’s a scary word. It was a big surprise. In July of 2016 I was running the track with my boyfriend (who is now my amazing husband) preparing for a PT test. That is when I started feeling numbness in my face. Well, living in Arkansas in July is hot. It was probably over 100 degrees. So I figured it was just the heat. A few days go by, my face is still numb and I had the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. It was time to go to the ER. Not much came from that trip except some pain meds and a referral to see a Neurologist.
Seeking a Neurologist that was worth it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I finally found one that I liked. My MRI showed a decent size lesion on the left side of my brain. I immediately thought, “this is from all the times my brother dropped me on my head when I was little”. The doctors asked if I ever had any brain trauma, “No, none that I can recall.” They decided to observe me for six months and repeat the MRI. I showed up to my appointment following the MRI and the doctors told me “you have a few more lesions since your last scan.” and my heart dropped. I kept repeating to myself “deep breath, don’t cry.” The doctors told me a spinal tap was next. I was shocked!
At this point I wasn’t told what they “thought” it could be. Just running tests and observations. That’s when she said, a spinal tap will help us confirm what is going on, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. If you are getting a spinal tap done, don’t google it or ask others their experience. It makes the nerves that you already have 10 times worse. I will spare the details of my horrific spinal tap experience including the week long spinal headache. Two weeks passed and my nurse called and said “I have great news, your tests came back and everything looks good but the MS panel is still not back.” HMM OK! A few days pass and she calls again. “The doctor would like you to come in your results are all back.” Well this can’t be good.
February 4, 2017; I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That day has changed my life forever and I remember it like it was just yesterday. I went home to find my boyfriend waiting on me. We cried a little then decided to go out to dinner. Little did I know after I got ready he was waiting in the kitchen down on one knee asking me to be his wife. Of course I said yes! Two days later we went to the court house and got married. In March 2017, I started on the disease modifying treatment Tecfidera. I didn’t know much about anything but before long it felt like I was taking a handful of skittles twice a day. I saw multiple doctors, a physical therapist (to work on the strength I lost in my right arm), who then sent me to occupational therapy. I remember clearly the doctor telling us the best thing for me to do is to stay active and keep moving. This was a wakeup call.
In the beginning it started to take over. I was depressed and unmotivated. I was active duty in the Air Force at the time and I knew this was the end of my career. I was placed on a Medical Evaluation Board and was medically retired from the USAF in Feb. 2018. I wasn’t going to let MS take everything from me. Losing my career was enough. I’m going to do whatever it takes to fight it. My husband started a workout plan and diet for us both to follow and the rest is history. I lost 30 lbs. in a few months. My migraines were less and less severe and if I did have one we still worked out and I was feeling better by the end. He pushes me every day to get stronger and healthier.
There were days I wanted to quit or not go at all, but that wasn’t an option. I got on a scale that will break down your entire body composition (thank you 5 Star Nutrition). My right side showed significantly more weakness than my left. You would have thought I was a lefty. So we managed to go to the gym daily and change our diet the best we could. After a year of being on Tecfidera, I had enough of pharmaceuticals! I knew that what I needed was a healthy diet, exercise, and a stress free loving marriage. I had it all. I had two MRIs in the last year and no new developments of lesions. God is good! Now that I have changed my lifestyle, I want to encourage people with MS that their life isn’t over. There is so much to do! In the next year I plan to get my certification for personal training and want to reach out to the MS community to help fight this disease through physical fitness and diet.