Today, I wanted to do something a little bit different. I want to talk more about my story and living with MS. I don’t know how many people know, but I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in September 2014. I originally started having symptoms in the spring of 2011 when I was playing softball at UT Tyler. I experienced significant fatigue, weakness, and almost passed out during long practices in the heat. The diagnosis of MS was overlooked and I was told that I had “blood sugar issues.” Symptoms went away, and everything was fine until July 2014. I was driving home from Austin from a family reunion and my hands were tingling, I was fatigued, and I felt like I was floating. I blew it off as dehydration from being out in the heat all weekend, but when I returned to work and the symptoms didn’t go away I started to worry. The tingling became numbness, so bad that I could not feel the keys of the keyboard under my fingers. A few weeks later it progressed to heaviness on my left side with a severe floating feeling lasting 30 sec-1 min. I knew something was severely wrong when I was having trouble enunciating words and was unable to write and speak at the same time. I went to my primary care physician who referred me to an ENT, which of course, told me there wasn’t any problem she could help with. I was then referred to a neurologist who wanted to put me on migraine medication, which I refused, because I knew it was something more than a migraine. He then sent me for an MRI, which showed lesions in my brain and spinal cord. To confirm, he wanted to get a spinal tap done. The spinal tap was a typical presentation of MS. So, there it was, September 22, 2014, I was formally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Time was at a standstill. I was numb. The common misconception is that MS is very debilitating and you will end up in a wheelchair and diapers. Though this may be the case with some people, fortunately, I have realized that this will not be the case for me. I can control this disease, for the most part, with compliance with my medication, healthy eating, frequent exercise, and a low stress environment.
How do I deal with MS and PT school?
Low stress level and PT school in the same sentence is almost comical. I have always been a high stressed person and put a lot of pressure on myself to get good grades, so entering PT with MS was a difficult task. I had to learn to stay on top of things, not procrastinate, and not put so much pressure on myself. I now try to do all of those and know that I don’t have to make all A’s. The decreased self-pressure has significantly helped me stay healthy through school. I have also joined a workout group to keep me active. I am proud to say I have not had a relapse in the 2 years that I have been in PT school. It’s all about time management and managing stress. I am stronger than this disease. It does not define me.