It was September 2004. My confidence soared with the thought of starting junior high school. New teachers, new lockers, a new hall in our K-12 building. Of course, all the same people were in my classes. Had been since I could remember– that’s what happens when you go to a small school. A couple weeks into the year, I was hanging out with my sisters and some friends outside, jumping on the trampoline. That’s when it all started.
After I had gotten off the trampoline, I wasn’t walking correctly. I was just being a klutz, like usual. But my mom thought there was more to it. She brought me in to see the family doctor the following Thursday. After looking me over and testing my reflexes and such, our family doctor ordered that I see a neurologist immediately. It just so happened that the neurologist from a town about an hour away was visiting the same doctor’s office where I had gone in first. So, I went to go see him. The neurologist looked me over and saw the same thing that my family doctor had. He immediately ordered that I see him the following day for an MRI where his full-time practice was.
Two weeks later, on October 13, 2004, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, or MS.
The link above brings you to the National Multiple Sclerosis website, where you can learn more about the disease. MS was something my Grandma had; has had since the ’70s. It wasn’t a disease that I could have. I was thirteen years old, for crying out loud! But when I looked over and saw my grandma deteriorating in a wheelchair from her primary-progressive MS, I determined never to end up like that.
I started a diary to let everything out on paper. Why me? I wondered. But then my dad pointed something out to me: I would not be the one diagnosed if God did not think I could handle it. Then I started thinking about how my sisters would be if either of them was the one taking Rebif infusions three times a week. My dad was right—I could handle this.
For the next year or so, my body would not tolerate any medication I tried. That January, I missed an entire week of school simply because I could not walk. When steroids became a part of my monthly schedule, I went to the Mayo Clinic, with the encouragement of my first neurologist. Going through the testing again, I looked to the two bible verses I had found the year before. Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and of good courage, do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” And 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” My faith has grown tremendously since my diagnosis.
At the Mayo Clinic, we tried various medications again, making it a game to test what I could handle. All hope appeared to be lost, until one medicine looked promising. I was started on Tysabri in the November of 2006.
The link above brings you to Tysabri’s website, where you can learn more about Tysabri if you care to. I am happy to say that I have not had a full-fledged relapse since I began Tysabri. The scars from my first lesions still give me symptoms, but they vary throughout the day. Heat, overwork, and exhaustion bring on some of my very first symptoms: a limp on my left side, numb fingers in my left hand, trouble seeing in my right eye, and trouble thinking clearly (these symptoms don’t all show up at once, they come and go on their own).
The effects of Tysabri become more likely the longer you are on the medicine. However, this is the first and only medicine that works for me. It is important to remember that with MS, everyone is different. I don’t know what the future will bring. I don’t know what will happen. I’m choosing to leave it in God’s hands, because it is too much work to worry about it myself.
If you care to help out in the cause, you can visit the National Multiple Sclerosis’s website or contact me. Since my diagnosis, I have become active in fund raising and raising awareness for and about Multiple Sclerosis. My relationship with God has grown continually since then. Even though I will never be able to have a completely normal life, why take it away from some one else? One of my motto’s is “Make a Difference.” And, God-granting, I will.