My name is Amy Adams and I have MS. I was diagnosed four years ago but based on my number of lesions, I've likely had the disease 15 years or longer.
I suppose the outward signs of the disease started with my gradual increase in clumsiness. I like to think I was not always clumsy. In fact, I played basketball in high school and after college, I graduated from the Police Academy in 1999. I finished second in my class of 30 men and 10 women. As a female, it felt good to know that I qualified in the physical and academic elements. But as I reached my mid-thirties, I would often drop my pen while standing in my colleague’s office. As I would round a corner in the hallway, I would bump my shoulder or hip on the door frame. And during my third pregnancy, I can’t recall the number of times I tripped and skinned my knees. Looking back, I believe these were signs.
In the spring of 2014, I noticed a worsening in my balance, mild dizziness and slight numbness in my feet. I remember researching my symptoms on WebMD and Mayo and finding these were often linked to MS. I wrote it off to normal aging but at my yearly check-up, I told my PCP about my balance issues. She performed a simple screening test that I did not pass. I had a referral to a neurologist but I canceled the appointment. That September my family took a trip to Disney and while riding the People Mover to cool off, I came across a blog by a woman who was dying from cancer. Her parting advice in her last blog entry – “Be thankful for every day you are given and choose to make the most of what you have.”
I rescheduled the appointment and was seen by a neurologist the first of October. As I described my symptoms, I began to get very anxious. Was it a brain tumor? He could see the fear in my eyes and calmed me down. He suspected I had done my research and had already diagnosed myself with MS. I remember saying, “I’ll take MS any day over a brain tumor!”. He assured me that he didn’t think either was the case. Instead, it was likely a B-12 deficiency. On my way out the door with lab tests in hand, he decided to order a brain MRI as a precautionary measure. On Friday, October 31, 2014, nearly four weeks after the MRI, I was still in bed the morning my doctor called.
Even though a part of me knew I had it, the confirmation was still shocking. I immediately started on glatimir acetate injections. Now, four years later, I have no new lesions but I’m losing coordination. Who would have ever thought putting on earrings would become impossible? Small buttons are equally challenging for me and I have to ask my husband for help. I LOVE high heels and yet my shoe collection consists of flats and no-tie shoes. Preparing meals requiring the use of a knife is becoming more difficult. I can’t run anymore and walking for even ten minutes leaves me with numb and wobbly legs. I take medication for fatigue and heat has a way of making me feel like I’m in s-l-o-w motion. In fact, I started using a cane on especially hot days to help with mobility. It may become a seasonal must-have for me.
But, it’s all in perspective.
I’m starting a new medication that gives me hope for the future and power in the present. Hearing from others with MS also has a way of making me feel like I’m not alone. I want to connect with other people, both in my stage of life and those who are younger and older. I want to learn from those who have been in my shoes and how they have dealt with the disease, and especially those who have managed the disease while balancing parenthood. And, to share my story so that it can possibly soothe someone else’s fear.
This I can control and this is what I want to do.
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