The Diagnosis

I closed the blinds and sat in my office in the dark.  Stunned, I replayed the doctor’s message over and over in my head: You have multiple sclerosis (MS). What did this mean? From the literature I had been given it could mean that I could be wheelchair bound at some point in the sickness or have another type of physical ailment.  How much time would I have before this could happen?

I couldn’t focus on anything else except my inability to understand how this could be realistically taking place in my life.  I was healthy. I ate well, ran, and exercised.  The last few years of my life had been full of a lot of stress but I was coping by meditating and taking care of myself, emotionally. It didn’t make sense.

I wondered if it could be a false diagnosis. Things like that happened all the time. One of my best friends had also been told that she might have MS because of her development of optic neuritis (O.N.), which often a precursor to MS. But, for her it turned out to be a singular case of O.N.

What was ironic for me was that I had been tested, in Costa Rica, for multiple sclerosis many years before but those MRI’s came back negative. (It turned out to be interstitial cystitis, which the doctors in Costa Rica could not diagnose.)

But, as I sat there mustering even a seed of hope, deep down I knew that this time it had been different. There was the tingling that I was experiencing in my hands and legs as well as the optic neuritis which did not happen to me the first time.

I couldn’t sort out my emotions but I knew I had to find someone who would be caring enough to give me an explanation. It would be one of many times that I would I need a second opinion.

Many of us share the same story when diagnosed with MS. We are incredulous to the news. Some, like I, don’t even know what the disease entails or have not even heard of it. We demand our previous lives.

I went through the bereavement stages. I was angry and mad that this was happening to me. I had gone through many traumas in my life and I was finally at the point of getting my life back in order. And, yet on the brink, three weeks, of my wedding, I was hit with yet another setback.  I was being tested and I wasn’t sure that I would pass this one.

But, thankfully my grandmother taught me resiliency through her trials and tribulations (She was illiterate and raised as a slave in Puerto Rico) I gathered courage and vowed to beat MS.  Yes, I still have MS but it does not have me.  I struggle with mild setbacks but I am cognizant that they are only “mild.”

I will not give up and with this strength grows my yearning to help, motivate, and encourage others who may not be so fortunate.  I thought my passion in life was to become an artist, but now I think it is to empower others with multiple sclerosis, which you will find out more about Wednesday….

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About Shawn

I was diagnosed with MS on August 13, 2009 only one month before I was to be married. I have two brothers and one sister. I also enjoy photography, running, working out, skiing, biking, reading and writing.I want to accomplish something that few others have ever done. The Big Hike, as we call it, will achieve that goal by calling attention to the fact that people with MS can still lead practical and fulfilling lives.

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