Heavyweight Title Match: Me 1 vs MS 0
My story dates back to about 2 years ago, when I was in great shape, living the good life and completely oblivious to what MS was other than something I heard Montel Williams had through TV promos.
Things started to change and change fast. I would work out and instantly I became incredibly fatigued and sick. I started to lose strength on my arms and legs, walk like a drunk, was dizzy 24/7, had coordination issues, muscle spasms, confusion, and felt like I was plugged into a light socket, among other things. I could no longer exercise, I began to pile on weight and felt really, really lost and confused.
For years previous, I believed I had thyroid issues, I was a textbook case (so I thought), but aside from a goiter and some nodules, my labs came back 'within high normal range'. I, again, took to the internet and plugged my symptoms into a search bar and came up with thousands of websites worth of information. I read and read and read some more. It started out as reading up on thyroid but quickly evolved into something more. I remember very clearly reading about other conditions that could mimic or present as a thyroid disorder. Why haven't I seen this before, why now? I clicked and read the description and symptoms of each of those conditions listed. I got to MS and was stopped dead in my tracks. No. No Way. This can't be right but yet this describes me to a perfect tee. Then I read 'common' first symptom was optic neuritis. Phew! I didn't have that-this has GOT to be wrong. I kept reading. I must have read fifty different websites on MS - each still sounded like everything I'm going through. I reread the other conditions, and while there were bits and pieces that made sense, nothing matched like MS. Oh Boy!
Ok, so now what? I kept a journal of my symptoms every day for almost 4 months and finally was convinced that MS is knocking on my door and I needed to get help.
I made an appointment with my primary Dr. She walked in and I told her I think I have MS. The look on her face was priceless. After some discussion and her examination, she looked at me and said "I think I agree with you" and off I went for what seemed like a never ending litany of testing and a MRI. The call came to me not 24hrs later from my Dr. herself saying the words I knew but didn't want to believe- ‘the MRI wasn't good and I'm referring you to a Neuro- I believe you have MS’. After another MRI done by the Neuro three months later (which showed more progression, time and space) and a positive spinal tap, I was diagnosed.
Could this have been around for several years? Possibly. It would explain a lot. But that no longer matters. What matters is MS is here to stay and clearly wants to fight me. Nah
My head was spinning; my family was concerned but supportive. There were so many questions. So again, I spent a lot of time reading- everything MS related, how to interpret tests, read MRIs, quality of life, treatments etc. I was careful not to read into things too deeply. Every story wasn't going to be my story; every fight wasn't going to be the same. This is truly a 'snowflake' disease; no two people will be the same.
Moving ahead about 9 months, I decided that my pity party was over, the other shoe never dropped, I can still live a full great life and that's exactly what I was going to do. I was taking Rebif and 7 pills a day just to function. I had hit rock bottom and it was time to train for my title match.
I began a journey at 5'6" and 258lb under the guidance of a friend (a fellow MSer) who was also a personal trainer. We began simple workouts 1-2x a week, combining strength and cardio. It wasn't always easy- there were days I did not feel well, weeks I was in a relapse, but I needed to keep on pushing through. I stopped taking all 7 of those pills (yes, I told my Neuro). I wanted to know I was getting stronger and feeling better on my own accord. Many of the pills had side-effects of weight and I couldn't afford that. If things got too bad, I could always take a pill. Each day was another punch to MS, another “take that”. I’m coming for you MS.
My journey is now seven months along. I am down 85 lbs. and feeling so much better, stronger. In that time, my yearly MRI has shown more progression and I have had relapses and changed treatments, but I'm still going and going strong. As I explained to a friend who asked 'How do you feel? You must be feeling great', I responded that there are two types of feeling good- MS good and physical good. The MS is still there every day, the symptoms are still annoying, painful and ever present but my body is physically feeling so great that it is better able to cope and fight the MS making it much easier to deal with on a daily basis.
I fought my first fight, my heavyweight title match and I won. MS is not going to take me down. I know this is just the first of many fights with MS but I'm ready.
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?