Angie recalls her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis and describes how she and her husband are raising two children while both coping with this condition.
My name is Angie and my journey with MS began back in 1999. You know, I was looking for Mr. Right and somehow, I know it’s crazy, but I met Mr. Right on the Internet. My husband now, Darren, we were on about our second date and he sat down and told me that he had something to tell me, and I was thinking, “Okay, he makes horror movies. Could he be a serial killer? What’s up with him?” And he actually told me that he had MS.
I stopped for a minute and I thought about it and it was like, you know what, he is too wonderful and I know nothing about MS, but I think maybe this will still work. So I told him it was okay. I let him walk out of the room. I immediately got on the Internet and looked up in MS. What is MS? I had no idea, didn’t know what would happen.
But, as I found out through our journey, life with MS could be okay. We traveled. We proceeded; we got married. We had a great life and he had a few episodes here and there, but all in all it wasn’t a big deal.
Like most couples we decided to start a family and in December 2005, we welcomed a little boy who is a wonderful little kid, but about six weeks after we had him I started, I was actually at Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale and I stumbled a little bit, and I thought, “You know what, it’s just because I am tired; I am overwhelmed; I don’t know how to raise a baby,” and I stumbled a little bit. So I didn’t think anything about it.
As the week progressed I started stumbling a little bit more and I noticed that my leg was a little bit weak and then I had, it went numb. All I could think of was when I had had the baby they’d cut something and I had a problem like a ligament was cut and that was causing problems in my legs. Then the next thing I thought was, “I do have a family history of heart disease. I had a stroke from the stress of having a baby.”
So on January 15, 2006, we went to the hospital and they checked me in and said they would do a variety of tests with me and kind of see if I had had a stroke. At the time a neurologist came in and said, “Try to touch your nose and close your eyes.” Well my hands were all over everywhere, I couldn’t, and I thought this is just the weirdest thing ever, and she said to me, “Well, you may have MS,” and my husband and I both laughed. We were like, “No, no, no. I don’t have MS. He has MS. I know what MS is; it’s not what I have at all.”
Well, luckily for me they went ahead and did an MRI and the next day they confirmed that I had MS. I had multiple lesions and active lesions and I think now, you know, it was a gift that I met Darren because if I didn’t have him I’d probably still be staying in the hospital crying because that’s a scary thing for anybody to deal with, but I knew life was going to be okay because we had always had a normal life – a few adjustments here and there, but we had had a good life.
So we immediately jumped into action and our mantra kind of is, “I have MS; MS does not have me. “ We live that every day. We jumped into action. We proceeded with our life. I went through physical therapy. I got medicines. I worked with the MS Society to get a neurologist and kept moving forward with my life, and we have been really strong advocates since then of the fact that MS in this world doesn’t have to be what it used to be. There are so many treatments for people; there are so many things that you can do, and as long as you stay positive your life, with a few minor adjustments, can be the same full life.
One of my biggest concerns after I was diagnosed, after learning to walk again and my exasperation, which, it set me back, was we wanted to have a second child, but should I have a second child because having MS, well it goes away while you are pregnant; when you have the baby your chances of having a relapse are like three times greater than what they normally are.
But I decided it wasn’t going to stop me so I worked with my neurologist and he put me on some different medicines to help with the chance of exasperation and we had a little girl and we just continue with life. We are not going to let it stop us.
What it does stop though is okay, we don’t go outside when it’s 115 and play at the park. We go inside and do something with the kids and, you know, we kind of limit. I always laugh because before I had MS my husband and I went to a trip in Paris. I made a walk all over the city. Now, okay, well both of us have it so we plan our trips a little longer and maybe do a little less each day, but we don’t miss out on what we would have done anyway.