By Lauren Kovacs
I was only 16 and the MS monster tried out its first attack. Optic Neuritis was the flavor it chose for nine months. At the age of 21, the monster awoke again. Numb from the neck down and several bewildered university sports medicine doctors pushed me to seek help from another doctor.
The doctor told me it was a stroke, gave me muscle relaxers, and sent me back to campus. Being a pretty smart college student, I knew muscle relaxers and a stroke were not the answers.
I went and saw our old neighbor, also a family doctor. I was directed back to the neurologist from my optic neuritis days. I was not sure how my eyeball related to my numb legs.
After tests, he said it was MS. The monster had revealed its identity. He said not to research it. I was only 21 and I was not going to research it?
The university library became my new home. Because you could not see it, many of my teammates accused me of faking it to miss our long practices. I sat day after day watching my team practice for UCA Nationals without me. Still confused, I just kept reading books about MS. The internet was still new.
Now, I read anything and everything MS related. I read about alternative therapies. I visit blogs. Prayer is also still a big shield.
I write down new drugs I am taking. I keep track of side effects. I write down how new medicine makes me feel. I take charge of the MS. I am the boss.
I had to change doctors because, after five years on one treatment, it was the only way for me to change medicines. Another one, I swear, made me feel like I was making it up. You are in charge. After five neurologists, I finally found a great one. She works with me instead of feeling like I was sent to the principal’s office.
Wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces are part of me. The internet has been the new library. I read about suggestions on everything, not always MS related. No MS topic is off limits or embarrassing either. If there is a short cut to anything, I try it.
Reading and taking charge are ways I keep the MS monster calm. I have days where I cry a lot, but chocolate is my cure. I don’t let MS rule my life. Even if I am unsure about a medication, I talk to my doctor openly about it.