At 25 years old, I reluctantly took a minute out of my jam packed schedule in nursing school to visit the eye doctor. I went on Friday because I was fed up with the dark blurry vision coming from my left eye for the past week. I arrogantly figured he would give me a pill and send me on my way. Needless to say, he did nothing like that! He instead kept asking me questions about my family history and multiple sclerosis! I kept repeating that I had run into a cement wall and now am have trouble seeing. That was it! I could not understand why he was insisting on making this so difficult. Well, he did not give me a prescription to clear my sight up like I asked for; instead he gave me an order for an MRI STAT. Better known in the non-medical world as right now!
Minutes later a classmate and I were headed off for my very first MRI. Several hours later I finished all the scans and was safely in the familiar domain of my dorm room’s cement walls.
At 7 o’clock that very same evening, the phone rang.
It was my ophthalmologist! He saw my scans and wanted me to see the head of neurology on Monday morning. I said ok, hung up the phone up and immediately called in reinforcement – my parents.
As you may have figured out by now, on Monday afternoon the head of neurology delivered the final blow to my family and I, “Ms. Clark, after reviewing your MRI, I am 99.9% sure you have multiple sclerosis.”
It felt like a blow right to the core, but at the actual moment I was still just concerned with my dark vision. After all, at that point that’s all multiple sclerosis really meant to me.
I retorted with, “I just ran into the wall and now I’m having trouble seeing out of my right eye!”
He said, “No Ms. Clark, it’s the other way around. You have been having trouble seeing, and THAT is in fact why you ran into the wall.”
Over next few days I received the normal dose of steroids that are routine for M.S. exacerbations. Actually, a few days after the steroids, my vision was nearly normal. But, I did indeed read all about multiple sclerosis in my nursing textbook. Everyone was gone home and I simply sat back and cried like the baby I was. Then, I closed the book, picked up my book bag and went to class!
It took a few days, but I finally realized that though all the things I read about such as paralysis and cognitive demise could very well happen to me, right now they have not, and I have been desperately trying to live my life by the same accord ever since.
Now thirteen years later and after countless MRIs, I no longer walk unassisted, work outside my home or drive. But I am a registered nurse. I married my college sweetheart who takes care of me daily. I am an advocate and ambassador for the National MS Society and I blog.
This may not be the life I envisioned for myself long ago, but it is the life I have now and I’m thankful for it.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?