It was Oct.4, 2003. I sat in the neurologist office awaiting results from a recent MRI. I remember the doctor saying, “Your MRI scans are conclusive with a disease called Multiple Sclerosis.” I could not believe what I was hearing — MS? “Not me!”
Being a healthcare worker for 14-plus years and knowing there is always the possibility of being misdiagnosed I went into the mindset, “I’ll just get a second opinion.” And, I did. As well as a third and a fourth opinion. I also got the opinion of two ophthalmologists and one neuro-ophthalmologist. They all confirmed the initial diagnosis.
In the days and weeks that followed, I experienced numerous tests and my first encounter with a large dose of IV steroids. My life as I knew it was crashing down around me and I could not do anything to stop it.
I was forced to accept this diagnosis of MS. With the loss of my central vision in my right eye, weakness, imbalance, chronic fatigue and numbness to the right side of my body, I knew my life was changing. I was angry! I wanted my life back!
Needless to say, we don’t always get what we want, now do we? I sucked it up and realized I had to fight in order to survive this fierce debilitating disease. I continued to live in constant progression of the disease with very little remission even after trying many different disease modifying therapies, along with many alternative therapies such as holistic medicine, herbal treatments, hours of occupational therapy, physical therapy and aquatic therapy.
I decided it was time to try a new neurologist and I’m glad I did. He is highly intelligent when it comes to MS. He is active in pioneering new medicine — research — for MS. He is quite the man I must say! Within a few months of seeing my new neurologist, he said I met the criteria for a research clinical drug study that was in phase 3 and looked very promising for people who suffer from MS. He also stated it was not a cure and there were high risk factors involved.
All I could hear was this was “my opportunity” to have a somewhat normal life again. That was in 2008 and, almost five years later, I’m happy to say I’m enjoying life again. I feel normal, yes, as normal as one can be considering the road I’ve been on for the last nine years. I still have my issues. I still have relapses, but I’m still fighting the fight!
In April of 2010, my family formed an MS Walk team in honor of the 2.5 million people worldwide and me who suffer from this debilitating life-consuming illness. The walk is to raise money for the National MS Society. The National MS Society helps to fund research, advocacy, education and emotional support to those living with MS and their families.
Over the past two years members of my team and “Team Teri” have joined forces to form a larger team called “Myelin Warriors.” Together we have raised over $11,000 in support of the National MS Society’s efforts.
This year, my community of Middlesboro in Bell County, has been selected to host the first Annual Walk MS Bell County. Together, we will continue to raise community awareness and funds for the National MS Society.
Our goal is to put an end to MS. I will continue my journey, battling until a cure is found.