How Dare I Forget My MS-iversary?
So I woke up this morning, trying to remember the date. Then I had this itchy little question in the back of my mind, “What’s supposed to happen today?” After which I remembered...
Today is my MS-iversary!!
It was ten years ago on this date that my neurologist simply informed me that, “Now, we can prescribe one of the disease-modifying drugs.” He didn’t say, “You have MS.” He just told me that my follow-up MRI showed more lesions so I qualified to start treatment. Plain and simple. No big fanfare. I was just ready to get moving on things and to start beating back this beast that was taking away my ability to perform.
That appointment in October was somewhat anticlimactic, however. The month earlier I had attended my neurology clinic’s annual MS seminar at which I was introduced to the specialized MS nurse from the clinic (whom I had yet to meet in the office). She asked me, “Do you have MS?” and my response was, “I don’t know yet.” She replied with a kind hand on the shoulder that I would not have received the mailing for the seminar if it wasn’t very likely I have MS.
Never mind the seminar as cluing me in; after results from my spinal tap were reported (to the doctor) in August, I was called into the neurology clinic for 5 days of IV solumedrol treatment. Bright and early on Monday morning of that week, I asked the infusion nurse, “So does this mean that I have MS?” She looked at me with puzzled eyes, “Didn’t Dr.XYZ talk to you?” No, not yet. She offered to go find the doctor only to come back and tell me that he was on vacation (at the beach) and wouldn’t be back until later in the week. She wasn’t able to tell me anything concrete, but I wouldn’t be there if my tests had come back normal.
In July, the news was MRIs that showed enhancing lesions. In June, it was the first MRIs (without contrast) that showed abnormalities in the neck. In May, I was reporting unusual symptoms to my primary care doctor. Heck, let’s go back five more years and it was temporary, but complete, blindness in the right eye for almost three months.
MS was not a surprise by the time I received the diagnosis. It was just a turning point that opened up new options for what we could do.
So when I think of the anniversary of my MS diagnosis, I almost laugh. Which event exactly do I want to celebrate? How do I want to put MS into perspective within my life’s journey?
If I look back 10 years to the actual diagnosis date and calculate based on adult years, I’ve lived with MS for just over 34% of my adult life, or not quite 20% of my entire life.
If I look back at the case of blinding optic neuritis, I’ve lived with MS symptoms for 32% of my entire life, or 52% of my adult life.
Or if I go back even further - to the time in graduate school when I was having visual disturbances and the opthalmologist at the university clinic ordered MRIs of my brain/optic nerves - I have lived with a suspected neurological condition for 86% of my adult life.
So how long have I had MS? The official answer would be 10 years.
My apologies to my MS for almost forgetting our anniversary. We’ve been on this road together for so long, and have become so comfortable with each other and our many idiosyncrasies, that I almost forgot.
Happy MS-iversary! May we live together in relative peace for many years to come.
How many specialists did you see before finding "The One"?