Once upon a time, there was a young mom who was going about her carpool duties when she noticed an extreme pain in her left eye. After taking a nap, she woke up to realize that she has lost the vision in her left eye and she could no longer see out of it. JUST LIKE THAT! Panic, fear, lots of tears and the uncertainty of not knowing what is wrong her. Fast forward a few days and three doctor appointments later, she is rushed in for an MRI at 6:30 p.m. to make sure the blindness is not being caused by a brain tumor. Take a moment and imagine lying in an MRI for two hours, hoping the tears that are streaming down your face do not blur the test and praying that you will be able to watch your children grow up and live a life with the man you love. Rethinking everything you ever thought and did and wanted to do in this lifetime and how you may never be able to do it. It is AWFUL!
How do I know, this is the beginning of my journey of living with Multiple Sclerosis. I did not have a tumor, but I did find out that I have lesions on my brain and spinal cord that had caused me to lose my vision for about 3 months in my left eye (I did regain it all) and over the next few years experience MS symptoms of extreme fatigue, weakness in my legs and arms and other invisible symptoms that affect me every day.
I went to work to start my 12-hour nursing shift and as the evening progressed, my back started aching and then my right foot started dragging as I walked. I started tripping over my right foot, and my back pain became unbearable. After being admitted to the hospital and three long days of testing, it was confirmed I had relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, MS.
MS is a chronic, progressive disease of the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure, but there are treatments that slow the severity and progression of the disease.
More than 20 years later, I have seen my MS diagnosis as a blessing in disguise. My days are filled with my family and volunteer activities and I realize that MS is not a death sentence. You can lead a fulfilling, purposeful, and happy life. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has been helpful to me and my family by providing information, programs about different aspects of MS, support groups, the yearly MS walk and annual MS family getaway weekends.
There were no warning signs that life was about to drastically change for Jessica, a 29-year-old mother, in early 2012. However, everything changed in one day that February when she suddenly began having vision problems.
Within days she would lose a quarter of her vision and soon after half of her vision was gone. She also began experiencing sensory and gross motor deficit on the left side of her body. She was diagnosed with tumefactive multiple sclerosis (MS) – a progressive form of MS.
Despite the fact that MS has damaged the frontal lobe of Jessica’s brain that affects memory and processing, she has made it a goal to get back to the job she loves as the Assistant Vice President of Project Everlast at the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF). However, since she can’t work at the job she is passionate about right now, she has thrown that passion into getting better. Jessica is one of those people that when something is wrong, she needs to be involved in the solution. So, she is working with the National MS Society to learn as much about the disease as she can, participating in a local support group, and using her experience with MS to somehow help others.
Jessica explained, “The hardest thing is to accept that MS is permanent. I know I can’t change that I have MS right now, but I can change my life to make it okay.” Jessica said that she has the most amazing friends who have carried her through it all and make sure that both she and her little girl, Electa, are doing okay and being taken care of. She is so thankful for them all and said they’ve stepped up in a way she could’ve never imagined.