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My Journey

My name is Candice Harris and I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in 1976 ( I was 29). It was hard back then for the medical field to diagnose me or anyone of this disease. It all started with a limp, tingling and burning in my right leg and I was extremly exhausted all the time.

One of my first inaccurate diagnoses after numerous tests, including a horrific Myelogram, was a rare disease called Olivopontocerebellar Degeneration, which I was told was a death sentence, one year maximum. I decided to get a second opinion, so I chose to write Southwestern Medical School and received a letter from the Professor of Neurology that he wanted to see me as soon as possible. As I limped into his office he told me he was sure by my gait that this wasn’t what I had, so therefore I was admitted into the hospital and had more tests, and eventually diagnosed with slow progressive M. S., which then they said I had seven years.

I remember leaving the hospital with my husband and thinking well now what! I had two different diagnoses. We had three young children and I was determined now to get yet another doctor’s opinion, so I boarded an airplane and headed for the Mayo Clinic for which I had a two weeks stay with more testing. The diagnosis was MS.

Moving forward now it’s almost 2013. I am almost 66 years old and still going. I am a paraplegic now. My marriage ended after 32 years. Our children are grown and after a brief stay in a nursing home, I am now living in my own apartment with a nurse that comes twice a month and an aide that comes daily to help with cleaning and cooking.

Treatment has not been successful for me. I participated in a pheresis program in the early 1980s – a machine took blood from one artery in my arm, filtered white cells and pumped it back into an artery in my other arm. They processed all my blood three times with each visit. I quit after nine months due to the fact my white cells were produced faster than they could filter them. I was on Betaseron (Interferon) shots every other day for twelve years in the 1990s, and stopped when I decided it wasn’t helping. Due to side effects, I am a little gun shy of drugs. Currently, I only take Warfarin for blood clots, and vitamin D and B12 shots.

MS has effected my health in ways I could not imagine. I lost my bladder and had a urostomy, a colostomy, and due to frequent trips to the hospital over the years, I’ve been exposed to MRSA. I have had a Smart Port put in because my veins are shot. I have had several blood clots, requiring surgery to have a vena cava filter implanted. And countless broken bones, including my back after a careless airline employee transferred me to my seat too roughly.

My complaints today include exhaustion, back pain and occasionally nausea and dizziness. I take pride that I far outlived the seven-year outlook I was originally given. I am blessed. Life with MS is alright if you don’t let it beat you.

Candice J. Harris

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Donna Steigleder moderator
    6 months ago

    Kokomom504, I don’t think we have to smile at a comment like that. I do try to remind myself, however, that usually when someone makes such a comment, it’s because they just don’t know; it’s made in ignorance, not cruelty so I try to educate about the topic rather than rebut. What you could say in return is something like, “maybe, but some cancers have cures but MS has no cure and is a lifetime of progressive disabling suffering so I’m not sure either is a great diagnosis for anyone. It helps them to re-think their perspective without disrespecting anyone in their family who might have had cancer.

  • trmuth
    2 years ago

    Ms. Harris,
    Your fighting spirit touches my heart.

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    6 years ago

    Candice,

    What a journey! My heart goes out to you and I admire your strength and attitude, you are an inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    Kim

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    Kim don’t put me on that pedestal it’s too hard sometimes to stand tall

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    As sooner you accept this disease. The sooner you’ll get on with your life! Do what you can when you can do it, if you can’t except your limitations and rest. Sure I want to have Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas too but I can’t so I no longer worry about it. If you have to sit while others are cooking that’s okay don’t be so hard on yourself because they will understand if they really love you. It was a lesson I had to learn and it was a hard one, but I Move On and don’t feel guilty anymore. If you have a MS stress is your enemy, so why stress over holidays it’s not worth it. I have had MS since 1976 and it took me many years of stressing over something that I had no control over, so I quit.
    Candice

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    Candice, people such as you are my hero – facing all these challenges but still finding the positive takes a special person. I hope you have many good days ahead, Laura

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    Thank you Laura I’m sure you are too we all have bad days though

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    Sometimes I wonder if I would still be married if I didn’t have this disease, I still fight this but sometimes it’s a lonely path.

  • Ann
    6 years ago

    Stay Positive…that is what makes me strong…and a the love of Family!! Prayers are with you!

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    I sure try Tammi, but I have to admit I do get
    lonesome sometimes

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    Thank you, stay strong and someday we’ll have a cure so our family doesn’t have to go through this.

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    I am sure they are close to a cure. I don’t want my grandchildren to get this either. Stay strong, stay positive, and know there will be a cure, and most of all keep fighting.

  • Tammi Chumley
    6 years ago

    Wow Candice,Your a fighter.

  • Candice author
    6 years ago

    Thank you it beats the alternative!

  • Kokomom504
    6 months ago

    I was diagnosed with MS in nursing school, because I couldn’t stop crying.
    So, I went to Kansas city, Missouri , so nobody would see me in a mental hospital.
    I thought I had cancer, and was told “good news, no cancer-just ms.
    I had a slow progressen, and no pain, and was told “but you look so good ” often.
    Why do we need to smile at that?

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