I was diagnosed with MS 50 years ago

I didn't know what was wrong with me. I thought I was actually losing my mind. That I could actually be losing my mind was the most horrible thing that could happen to me.

It was clear something was happening

All kinds of tests were done. I couldn't walk, couldn't see and when sight started to 'peek' through, both eyes spun in circles independently of the other. I had a loss of hearing. My fingers couldn't hold a pencil and they trembled so badly. My speech was gone except for a word here and there. I was admitted to the hospital and was in there for 15 days being given Steroid IVs. At that time, they had no other treatment and thought it was worth a shot. Every other day the steroid was changed. One day would be a rather fast infusion the next day it took eight long hours to drip in. When the doctor came into the room and sat down, he said he had bad news for me. Mind you, I thought I was losing my mental faculties and it scared me to death. He says you have multiple sclerosis.

I felt a resolve come over me

I let out a long breath because I was so relieved. I responded with thank god I wasn't mentally ill. I didn't have any doubt that I could fight anything else that was thrown at me. The doctor thought I didn't understand what he was telling me and tried to tell me in a different way. But he also told me that I would never be able to work with patients ever again and that I would most likely end up in a wheelchair. I laughed at that prospect and told him I understood what he said the first time. But I refused to NOT be able to resume full-time nursing and I would never, ever use a wheelchair. I would walk. I would return to nursing full-time. It took me a full year and a half to return to work full-time. I was fortunate that my place of work allowed me to continue to work when released from weekly doctor care...I started back to work for one hour and then I worked up to two hours and it took a full year and a half to return full-time. I will say it did take me over two and a half years before I had any energy left after working my 8-hour shift. I was fully spent of any strength beyond my shift. I fortunately never had to sit in a wheelchair except at my hospital discharge.

Setting an example for others

I am a fall risk. That has never been gone for long. Surprising how one can learn how to fall in the safest possible way and laugh about it. There is no sure way to do it. But I have never suffered any bone fractures and never more than a few days of stiffness from my fall. And I do understand the others that say they laugh at it. I do, too. It helps others who have witnessed this very old lady falling. Surely, if she is laughing, she can't be hurt too badly. At 88 years I do require an assist in getting up, but that is from age. I'm not as strong as I once was. My opinion for me is that you cannot fold up and allow anything to take your independence away if at all possible. I say that while recognizing some are not going to regain their independence no matter how they try. But it is the trying to do all one can that changes the situation to some degree. If only knowing within themselves that they have fought the good battle. That is an accomplishment and that is a valiant feat.

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