In 1980 when I was twenty five, I walked out of a sales presentation and noticed that when I got into my car my left shoe was missing. It was lying in the parking lot twenty feet away. Other strange things were happening to me— such as left-leg weakness and left arm numbness…Thirty-three years ago there were no CAT scans, MRI’s, or visual evoked response (VER) testing. I was told I had an infection in my spinal column, given prednisone and sent home. After ten months, it went mysteriously away.
Two months after I delivered my son in 1983, it all started again, but differently. I began wetting the bed. My balance and leg coordination were affected. I lost almost all the sight in my left eye. Deep down inside I knew I had MS but my life at the time was too complicated to go for a diagnosis. My husband had lost his job, and by year-end I had lost mine too. Both his parents had passed away. Then I started a new job. My son was now an active one-year old. During that one year, the intense stress from all these major life events was breaking down all my main body functions.
Finally in 1984, I went to a new neurologist. He diagnosed me immediately. I had the multiple symptoms in multiple parts of the nervous system. Now, the multiple occurrences, the presence of optic neuritis, and positive findings of a new visual evoked response test made his conclusion that I had MS. At that time, few people knew anything about MS. There was no internet, little awareness, and scant literature on the subject. I felt alone, terrified and helpless…
My Life and Where I am Today
Throughout the years I journeyed through motherhood, career changes, moving across the country, and having to live on my own for three years while in a wheelchair. I have lived with MS for 33 years, do not fear MS at all, and manage it very well. .
I learned how to manage MS so that I could enjoy life, despite the setbacks it gave me. To learn, I relied on my skills, ingenuity, creativity and support of others--experimenting and documenting frequently. During most of the 33 years I have lived with MS, I spoke with thousands of persons as a volunteer in a variety of capacities on my own and for the National MS Society. My mission has been to help people with multiple sclerosis and those they interact with manage and understand this neurological disorder.
In 2012, I became an author and published "Managing MS: Straight Talk from a Thirty-One-Year Survivor," for the purpose of helping others dealing with multiple sclerosis. Sharing my experiences and expertise from my own life’s journey in this self-help guidebook, it is a knowledge and support tool. I don’t fear MS anymore and I want to reduce that fear for others.
Currently, I reside in Glendale, AZ with my husband of 35 years. I continue to research, educate, advocate awareness/understanding of MS through my website and other social media. I also volunteer with the Arizona MS Chapter.