Strength through diagnosis

by | January 20, 2019 1:00 pm

Last Updated: January 19, 2019 at 2:53 pm

By Sarah Middleton

It was the summer of 2018, the summer before my senior year of high school. All I had in mind for that summer was to relax and enjoy it to the fullest. Nothing could have prepared me for the life-changing moment I would soon endure.

On July 21, 2018, I was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease in which the immune system eats away at the nervous system. Although it is treatable, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, tingling/numbness, vision problems and muscular difficulties.

It wasn’t until late June that I began to experience some abnormality in my health. One day my body went limp, almost as if it shut down on me. It felt like an uncomfortable surge going throughout my body, and I had no control. Two weeks later I experienced that feeling again, but instead of my entire body, the feeling settled into the right side of my body. I had no clue that this would become worse over time.

When these episodes occurred more, it felt like an uncontrollable tingling sensation going throughout my right side, my muscles would start tightening, and my leg and arm would feel heavy. It would only last for 5-10 seconds, then I was back to normal. Whether I was walking, standing, sitting or making a sudden movement, it happened. I couldn’t be in an upright position while my body was in this state, so I’d fall to the ground or slump over. I would experience this several times throughout the day.

My parents and siblings were concerned for me and took every precaution to make sure I was taken care of. It scared them as much as it scared me. The whole experience had me terrified and hopeless. It got to the point where I didn’t want to leave the house much because I didn’t want to risk being in that vulnerable state in public. I was dreading to find out what was happening to me.

Thankfully, I finally received my answers and the proper care after being admitted into the MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston. They administered an MRI of my brain and spinal cord. Once they got the results back from the MRI, a lesion was found on the left side of my brain and one on my cervical spine (neck). I still remember the day of my diagnosis. The doctor seemed sympathetic while reading me the diagnosis, I guess because he thought I’d be too sensitive to the news, and all I could say was “okay.” Being diagnosed with an illness I’ve never even heard of before, I was at a loss of words.

With the help of medication, my doctors, huge support from family and the grace of God, I feel as though I’m able to handle this new adjustment. I thought having MS would be putting a limit on myself or interfere with my senior year, but that’s only if I allow it to. I will continue to enjoy my life and adjust to my condition.

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