Guys, this is my “coming out” post! It is my first online confession of the new adventure I have undertaken, albeit, not one I would have chosen. So, here it goes. [deep breath] …I have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
It all started about three months ago. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like electricity was all throughout my body. Thinking that I just drank too much caffeine that day, I went back to sleep. The next night it happened again, except it was much worse. The nightly episodes of misery, feeling like my nerves were exposed and misfiring, continued and worsened. During the day, I increasingly became more and more numb from the ribcage down, and also noticed that my legs were getting weaker. Finally, I went to the doctor. This was the beginning of a long process of doctor’s appointments, lab tests and MRI’s. Finally, on June second- my birthday of all days, I received the dreaded and increasingly apparent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
So, what exactly is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune disease that causes damage to the central nervous system. The brain is the control center for the rest of the body, and communicates to the body via the central and peripheral nervous system. Much like electrical wiring, this interconnected system is covered in a protective coating called the myelin sheath. This coating acts much like the rubber casing of an electric wire, preventing electricity from escaping, and allowing messages to be transmitted. The immune system of a person with multiple sclerosis attacks the myelin sheath, exposing the nerves. (Oh, that’s funny, because that is EXACTLY WHAT IT FEELS LIKE.) Ultimately, as the disease progresses, the myelin is replaced with scar tissue, causing permanent disability. Yippee.
Why did this happen?!
Ironically, I was in great physical shape. I had been training to get certified as a Balance Culture fitness instructor. I have always been a health nut and a weirdo about keeping chemicals out of my home. I am a very happy person. I have the most amazing, beautiful daughters who fill our lives with joy and beautiful chaos; I have an amazing marriage to my best friend (who is as kind as he is dreamy); we are in Florida- the land of perpetual sunshine- near the beach and Disney World; and we are at literally the greatest college on the planet, Southeastern University. I am beginning the masters program, Ministerial Leadership, which is a bucket-list dream of mine that God has turned into a reality. Basically, everything is PERFECT! And then, MS hit the scene.
So, what now?
After a grueling decision process, I have finally begun treatment. We chose to go with Rebif, a self-administered shot three days a week that you are supposed to do for the rest of your life. I am two weeks into treatment, and so far, no side-effects! This is incredible, because all multiple sclerosis treatments come with the longest list of possible side effects and risks. God is definitely with me in this. I feel the effects of all the prayers that are lifted up on my behalf. The road hasn’t been easy. I haven’t handled this gracefully. I have had a whole slew of emotions, all the stages of grief: self-pity, depression, anger, rage, denial, Nutella binges, you know, the usual. It has been hard to accept that my life is forever changed, forever crippled by some stupid disease. But, for the record, God will heal me. I already feel it. And what a blog post THAT will be, so stay tuned! Anyway, whew! I am glad to have the “coming out” conversation out of the way!
Proverbs 4:18 is one of my favorite scriptures, and it says, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.” I firmly believe that my future is bright, that the best is yet to come, and that my life will continue to get more, not less, awesome.