I was sixty years old when I received the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. About two years prior to that, I began experiencing some mobility and hand weakness problems. The doctor I was seeing did not see the need for further testing. When I changed insurance companies in January 2012, I scheduled an appointment with a new physical therapist. She told me that she couldn’t help me until I had my hip looked at by an orthopedist. Eventually, I received notice that I needed my hip replaced. So, silly me, I thought all my troubles would be over.
After the hip replacement in October 2012, all of the leg, foot (foot drop), and hand weakness remained. Several MRIs later showed that I had MS. That came on January 4, 2013. It was a huge revelation to me and my world spun off into a new trajectory. I was shocked, relieved, devastated, and fearful of what my future would look like.
My neurologist thinks I have had MS for at least thirty years. As I learn all I can about this disease, I realize that there were moments that symptoms began and were explained away by other reasons.
Those symptoms included:
- balance–I was getting older (at 35!!)
- ringing in my ears–temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and spent $5000 on braces
- falling–no reason at all
- inflammation–needed more chiropractic adjustments
- weakness in right leg and hand–needed more chiropractic adjustments
- ability to walk in a straight line–needed a hip replacement (which I did, but the weakness and foot drop didn’t go away)
I began to devise what has been known recently as MS Hacks:
- using voice recognition software for typing–really helps, but I have to make sure I proof read
- changing my hand dominance–have you ever tried eating with your non dominant hand?
- walking with a cane and walking slower–especially for new places, uneven terrain, and walking more than a block or two
- don’t carry more than one thing in my right hand–especially if I can’t get a good grip on it
- using my cane or hanging on to walls–to compensate for poor balance
- using cruise control–even on in town streets
- medications, supplements and aromatherapy–for symptoms of the MS
- giving myself down days–especially after a real busy one
- physical and occupational therapy–helps to maintain as much strength and agility as I can
I am learning how to use the strengths I still have and adjusting for my weaknesses. It is hard not to want to go at full speed. Every day is different and symptoms may fluctuate in their severity, so I am finding solutions that will help compensate for my weaknesses. I’ve never been a very spontaneous person, and now even less so, since I could plan to do something, then wake up to find my symptoms have decided to get worse!
I had another revelation and started giving thanks to God that there are so many things I can still do beyond the disabling issues with which I deal. It was not an easy transition, but once I made it, I felt very free. How did I come to that breakthrough? Lots of prayer and diving into God’s Word. He says in Psalm 91:1–2, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’”