Road To Recovery
The first symptoms started as a flicker. It started slowly. Just a little fatigue but, I was sure it would pass. My body was simply tired from being pregnant or nursing babies for 7 years in a row. I remember the sweet sound of my children laughing & playing going from adorable to deafening in seconds. The thought of having to clean up, teach school or make dinner would go from a normal task to overwhelming & impossible with no warning. I would shake it off & tell myself I just needed to get a good night’s sleep & everything would go back to normal.
I would take all 4 kids to the park for a picnic only to sit on the bench because I could not run around and play tag. They would ask me to push them on the swing & the swing felt like it weighed 100 pounds. We would skip walking down to the river because the river seemed miles away & my leg kept going numb. I was beginning to feel like a horrible mom! I just needed to get home and take a nap! Everything would be ok after a family nap.
Then one night after we put the kids to bed, my husband & I were sitting in the living room laughing when out of nowhere; I started losing vision in one eye. The sight shrank very quickly until it was just a pin hole. My dad came right over to watch the kids so Brian could take me to the hospital. We waited there for several hours. By the time I spoke with a doctor my vision had returned. The doctor talked to me for 5 minutes & diagnosed me with an ocular migraine. He prescribed a pain medication even though I told him I had no pain & he sent us home.
This continued for over a year. I had several episodes with different symptoms. I was told I was having transient ischemic attacks (TIA) they are like a stroke, producing similar symptoms, but usually lasting only a few minutes and causing no permanent damage. After a year of getting worse, I finally had what I was told was a major stroke. I was told I would never be normal again.
From that point, everything began happening much faster. The symptoms continued & became much worse. We went with the theory that I had a stroke & learned to cope accordingly. I tried desperately to hide most of the symptoms because I was embarrassed. I felt weak. I was sad & felt all alone. I lost my driving privileges’. I could not take my kids anywhere unless someone was with me. I was having hard time breathing, walking and my movements felt like I was moving my limbs through quick sand. Let’s not forget the fatigue, the overwhelming fatigue! I was still so very tired. The issues with my limbs progressed I never knew exactly what was going to happen. Were they going to tingle or feeling like I had bugs crawling on me or worse, would they go numb & not hold me up? It never went away. Then the final blow happened when I ended up in a wheel chair. I just learned to deal with it. This was my new normal. This was the hand I had been dealt & I would be fine. Suck it up & move on.
After years of playing that crazy game with years of chaos & confusion; years of feeling inadequate, of making excuses for not hanging out with friends or family, missing meetings, ignoring phone calls … after all of that, by sheer accident, I was finally diagnosed with Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Just being diagnosed & finding out I wasn’t crazy made a huge difference! I had felt like I was all alone & would never recover!! Once I knew what was happening in my body & made a decision to be open with everyone I knew; family, friends, business associates … things began to get better! The isolation I had created was killing me faster than any disease.