This day two years ago my journey with MS began. It was Halloween weekend when I was admitted to Beaumont hospital with Tonic Spasms that led to involuntary body movements that would leave me stuck in an awful position with my leg turned in, hand in a claw like position and paralysis down the left side of my body. On top of that my speech was slurred so the days leading up to my Beaumont admission, I actually thought that it sounded like some sort of stroke, but I called my GP and assured them I that I didn’t think it was a stroke. They sent me straight to Beamount immediately because it was happening for days and only getting worse to the point I couldn’t keep hold of anything and would randomly get a tonic spasm attack. They were so embarrassing and of course when it first happened it was in public, I was on the main street in Drogheda, I tried to ask someone for help, but my speech was so fuzzy and I was heaped up against a wall. People walked past, and one man thought I was drunk. It really showed me that people often judge and ignore others even when someone needs medical help. But that’s a story for another day but if you ever see someone struggling on the street, maybe check if they are okay and not give a quick judgement of what you think is going on, because if they need medical attention it could be life saving or important that they are checked out.
I ended up in Beaumont on the Halloween bank holiday weekend. After a few days of being in a bed, when all staff was back on the Tuesday, I had an EEG and MRI. The staff recorded my spasms many times because they told me that they are quite rare. That itself was embarrassing but at this stage, I didn’t care I just wanted to get “fixed” and go home. My body didn’t feel like my own and I was terrified of what the results would be. I knew in my heart that it was most likely MS but I was afraid it would be something much worse. I’m not really a religious person but I went down to the chapel and prayed so hard that it would be MS and not a brain tumour. I even found myself bargaining with this God that I was praying to. Thinking that I had got sick because I was a “bad person” and that if I was a better person would it go away. My sister assured me that I wasn’t a “bad person” but a good and kind person which I kinda knew already (jokes). Crazy stuff I know but when you’ve had little to no sleep for days and having these attacks, I literally felt like a mad woman.
Few hours after my MRI, they said that there was a lot of inflammation on my brain and that it could be one of two things, PML or MS. PML is a rare brain infection that is fatal. It can result in one of two things; death or severe disability. They told me it was most likely to be MS and so they ran other tests. I had my lumbar puncture done that day which is often called spinal tap. As the hours passed my mind was still focusing on PML, I don’t think I slept a wink that night.
So now we get to the day, I was alone in my hospital bed, this day two years ago and the neurologist came into my room and said, “do you know anything about MS”?? To which I answered, yes, I’ve seen people with MS growing up and I know a few people around my age with MS. She then responded, “Christina you have Multiple Sclerosis, how do you feel about that” and I said “Thank God for that, we can work with that, I’m okay with that and I know I will be, thank you, does that mean I can go home now.” She then went on to tell me that I would be called in on the first week of December because the lumbar puncture results take six weeks and they couldn’t start me on any Disease modifying therapies (DMT’s) until them results were in. So she prescribed me baclofen and amitriptyline and two days later I was discharged and sent home.
Today is the day that marks two years since I heard those words, “Christina you have Multiple Sclerosis” and oh how my life has changed. I guess that means today marks my MS Birthday. In the moments I found out that news, my world had flipped up-side down, but I was okay with it. My family came to visit me and thought I’d be in hysterics, but I wasn’t. Obviously, I spoke before about the stages of grief I went through; denial, anger, sense of loss, guilt etc and sometimes I still visit those stages. Living with MS can be hard, but my life has changed in ways that I would have never imagined.
Since my diagnosis, I literally appreciate life so much more. I do not take anything for-granted. Sometimes I struggle to explain how much I’ve changed. It’s like I don’t see life physically or emotionally the same anymore. Before my diagnosis I can honestly say I didn’t appreciate the gift that life is. I took my body for-granted so much. Every day when I wake up I am so grateful that I can walk or simply hold a book or make my food. I am thankful that I can eat my food without assistance. I am thankful that I can walk down the street. MS is so unpredictable, I appreciate my good days because I don’t know what might be ahead of me tomorrow. I am thankful for being able to do the simplest of tasks because that’s the thing, people spend so much of their time giving out about things which is a part of life but if I could give anyone any piece of advice it would be:
Life is too short to complain about the little things, be happy for all things big and small, especially small things because small things to you could be big things to someone else. Be thankful that you have your health, be thankful that you can walk, talk and eat. Be thankful for your body that is physically abled because no one knows what life may bring tomorrow, so don’t think you’re invincible and take your life for granted. Don’t be quick to judge others, no-one can afford to judge. Be thankful for the use of your legs, hands, body, vision and overall health. Try not to complain easily about silly things because it is often done, and I see it every day. Instead you should be thankful for all the things in your life because when you lose certain things, you will wish you appreciated them in the first place. And Finally Appreciate the beauty in EVERYTHING!!
Thank you for reading, Christina xx