Relief with Diagnosis

I know it sounds weird… but when I was diagnosed with MS in August 2010, I had a sense of relief wash over me. For one, I didn’t know what MS was when the words were spoken to me but also because I was thinking I had a brain tumor or something.

Relieved it wasn't worse news

So yeah, I can honestly say that even now that I know what MS is; I am relieved that I wasn’t given WORSE news. Am I alone on this? From what I’ve heard from others that I know that have MS, there was relief as well, especially those who had been going on without any answers, for a very long time. I’ve had funny looks from those who don’t have MS when I say that I was relieved when they ask me how I felt. Of course I went through a state of denial and depression once days passed after I was diagnosed… but I guess that’s “normal” for those who get diagnosed.

How I felt relief

The only way I can explain how I felt relief is to dive deeper and explain exactly what was going on.

So, I was 22 in 2010. My kids were 1 and 4, and I was going to school online to finish up my associates’ degree in Criminal Justice. I had been going to school for a while online, so there wasn’t any big change in my lifestyle… But when I started getting numbness randomly and more frequently… I started to worry, especially when my face/lip started going numb.

Being told it was due to stress

I had been to doctors and ER’s and was told repeatedly that it was due to “stress”… like, they would hook me up to monitors and say I was hyperventilating or something? Well HELLO… things are going numb… of course I’m freaking out! But that didn’t explain why it went numb in the FIRST place.

I had finally spoken to my primary care physician, and she had requested an MRI to be done on me. I’m thinking, “Okay… at least we can figure things out and I’m not getting the SAME response over and over.” Well – I had ended up going to the ER when I was visiting my mom in San Antonio. I went to the ER, and they did the “normal” stroke test and all that. They hooked me up to monitors, did a CT scan, and told me that it was… take a guess… STRESS!!! I just about flipped out on everyone there. They told me to follow up with my primary care physician, so I did.

It's not stress!

Well, needless to say, I followed up with the PA (Physician’s Assistant)… who then CANCELLED my MRI. Saying there was nothing wrong with me and that I just need to “control” my stress level. (Well... why didn’t I think of that?!?!) When more of my face started to go numb, I made an appointment with my ACTUAL physician and explained what was going on and that it’s not stress! I wasn’t even stressed with school work anymore, because I had completed my Associate’s Degree.

My Physician diagnosed me with Bells Palsy, and gave me a prescription for a Prednisone Taper. Go figure, after taking the steroids for a little bit, the numbness started to subside, but my Physician had FINALLY referred me to a neurologist.

Finally getting answers

I had an MRI done, had a HUGE flare before I had a diagnosis, but finally got some answers. So, as you can imagine… I felt SO MUCH relief when I was given an answer. Of course, I went through all the “normal” stages that follow being diagnosed with an incurable illness, but at that specific moment when I had an answer & that it wasn’t “all in my head”, I felt this huge weight lifted off my shoulders, even if it was a brief moment.


Ashley Ringstaff

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