Just like that, in an instant, my world stopped spinning. I was sitting in my doctor’s office as she handed me two sheets of paper. What does this mean? How is it possible? I’ve always been healthy, and would barely even catch a cold. I have two small boys. They need me. This can’t be real.
Two weeks ago, I came back from an adventurous trip to Orlando with my boys, ages four and two. We always traveled together. I woke up the next morning and my right eye was hazy. I kept rubbing it but it didn’t get better. It’s okay, it will be fine, I said to myself as I started our day.
Three days later it was still hazy. I finally told my husband that something didn’t feel right with my right eye. He told me to go to the doctor right away. No, it will be fine, I told him.
The next day he asked me if it was better and I said no. He made me make an appointment with an optometrist. The optometrist ran all the tests and said everything looks normal; I have 20/20 vision, but the bottom half of my right eye was missing vision, and she couldn’t figure out why. She said sometimes it’s because of a tumor or a stroke, but she didn’t see that either. So she referred me to an ophthalmologist.
The ophthalmologist dilated my eyes and ran all her tests. She also couldn’t find a problem but attested to the fact that I was missing vision in the bottom half of my right eye. She ordered an MRI.
My heart stopped beating. An MRI? I have an extreme case of claustrophobia. I can’t do it. I know I can’t.
Family and friends told me this could be very dangerous and I need to at least get a CT Scan immediately. I went to the emergency room the next day. While we were awaiting the results of the CT Scan, I asked the doctor if he has seen a case like this before. He said yes, a young lady like myself came in with the same situation a couple of months ago and it was a tumor. I fought back every urge to burst into tears.
Sitting in the waiting room with my husband and cousin in dead silence, a million questions and scenarios ran through my mind. But is nothing more important than my children. They are too little.
The doctor came running into the room and, with such excitement in his voice, said, “You’re free to go, no tumor!”
Thank you, God! But now what? The doctor told me I have to do an MRI to find out what’s wrong.
I scheduled the MRI and was shaking the entire car ride. I checked in and was told to remove all my jewelry and change into the scrubs.
As they sat me on the MRI machine, my heart pounding, tears started rolling down my face. They gave me a panic button to use in case of emergency. They laid me down to test it. I held my breath and went in. I was shaking and they pulled me back out. I was ready.
They gave me a helmet to wear since it was an MRI of my brain. As soon as they put the helmet on and closed it I burst into tears. I was suffocating! There was absolutely no way I could close the helmet, go in the machine, and stay there for two 45-minute increments.
My doctor prescribed me anti-anxiety medication that helped me get through the MRI the next time around.
Then came the waiting period. Waiting for the results. I spoke with my doctor and she said that it’s probably nothing; she’d let me know as soon as she heard from them.
Later in her office, my vision still hazy, she handed me two sheets of paper. In big capital letters on the top of the page: MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.
What does that even mean? How is it possible? There must be some mistake.
“Can you please tell my father to come inside?” I asked my doctor. He was waiting outside for me.
He walked in and saw me crying. “What’s going on?” he asked.
The doctor told him about my diagnosis. I couldn’t stop crying. He didn’t know what to say. None of us really knew anything about it.
“Will I get my eyesight back?” I asked.
“Probably not,” my doctor said.
She had arranged for me to go to Cedars-Sinai and see one of the top neurologists later that day.
On the drive home, all I kept thinking about were my children. I want to be there for them and be an active part of their life. See them grow up. I didn’t know anything about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but it sounded like a death sentence to me.
Upon meeting the neurologist, I couldn’t contain my tears.
“I have two small children who need me,” was the first thing I told her.
“You will be just fine,” she told me in a calming voice.
She explained to me what MS is, what treatments are available, and what steps to take next.
“Will I get my eyesight back?” I asked her.
“Yes you will,” she responded.
I came home later that evening to a houseful of family members. Everybody had gathered for me. The warmth and love was incredible. But I needed some time alone to process everything that had just happened.
For the next few days I stayed home, didn’t answer any phone calls, just stayed with my thoughts. And my children.
The in-home steroids restored my vision. The spinal MRI and two more doctors’ opinions confirmed my diagnosis.
I started a monthly infusion called Tysabri, an immunosuppressive drug. The first one was the scariest. A side effect of Tysabri is that if I test positive for the common John Cunningham virus — or JC virus — I can get a rare brain infection that leads to death.
It was a whole lot to take in so quickly. I stopped googling MS. It only scared me more.
As the months went by, this started becoming my new normal. I began traveling with my boys again. And learned that things are not always in my control, but how I deal with it is.
A little less than two years later, I welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world. It’s an unpredictable world. Who knows what lies in my future with MS. But for right now, looking at the beautiful smiles on my children’s faces, life is good again.
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