Living with MS, But Never Alone

My life with Multiple Sclerosis began about 15 years ago. My story began upon returning to work after traveling for a Christmas vacation. I had been feeling extremely tired, thinking it was just jet lag. Walking down the hall after the first day back to work, I felt bit strange; out of sync, and I felt I would fall over. I couldn't walk in a straight line. Driving home frightened me when I felt that I was going to tip over to the left while in the car. That got my attention and made an appointment with my doctor. Soon an MRI was scheduled on a cold early morning.

A few days later, after a very confusing day when I couldn't remember all my appointments, I got the phone call that changed my life. My doctor asked if I knew what Multiple Sclerosis was. [Pause] "Yeah, my uncle had it." [Pause from the doctor]. "Well, then, your MRI shows evidence of MS. I'll send in a referral for a neurologist and get back to you. In the meantime, I need to to come in and have a chat." Me? Multiple Sclerosis? What would my dad say? My uncle was his brother! Would I end up like him? How did this happen? Little did I know that I was experiencing vertigo and cognitive dysfunction that week.

Eight years earlier I had learned that Annette Funicello, my name's sake, had announced her battle with MS. Now I was like her! We had more in common than just my name. She wasn't someone famous my dad always talked about! Then during a summer visit home and invited to a high school class reunion, I learned that two other classmates also live with MS. Oh, and my sister - in- law has 3 aunts, all sisters, living with MS. How does my world wrap around this?

As the years roll by, and I deal with the twists and turns, ups and downs of MS, I discover I'm not alone in my battle with MS. People I know, friends, family, and colleagues at work, one way or the other are affected by MS. I've endured a variety of symptoms and relapses over the years and do feel alone at times when things are especially bad. Yet, family and friends around me, and faith in God, help me endure.

I've learned to listen to my body and slow down when feeling out of sync and MS says, "Hello, remember me?" I've learned my limits; keeping track of my spoons, and work hard to stay as healthy as I can, which also includes balancing MS symptoms with diabetes.

I'm a Special Needs Middle School teacher at a school for the deaf (yes, deaf, too). I've been teaching for twenty years and still going. I don't plan on stopping any time soon, because I'm never alone in my battle with MS and it's been quite a learning experience.

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