After being diagnosed with MS, I began processing the disease in the only way I knew how by writing. I have broken down my experiences and hindsight into seven sections. Today, I will give you the first installment. I hope you enjoy.
My untold story.
ACT testing day, a huge moment in a high school junior’s life. For me, this day now represents more than a determination of which college I would be eligible to attend, but the start of a disease that would take years to diagnose. What I remember comes across mainly fuzzy, but with a small sense of clarity. I was choosing one of those dreaded letters A, B, C, or D and my hand would not cooperate. It wasn’t shaky, or painful. I just did not have the control that you master when you are three. I completed the exam without the hand problem affecting my overall results, I scored one point higher than the previous time I sat for the test. However, upon trying to explain what happened to my parents, it was like trying to nail into a piece of cement, not going to happen. Life went on.
Later that year, I was privileged enough to travel with my French class to France. The scheduled 10-day voyage would test our language skills, and provide us with memories of a foreign land to cherish. I was so excited for this July trip that I wrote off and hid my small bouts of dizziness, believing I just needed to take better care of myself. I was also having trouble walking; my left leg felt like it was dragging, and I sometimes had to focus very hard to make it work naturally. Again, explaining this to my parents seemed like explaining calculus to a five year old. So I wrote it off. That is until, the day before the trip I was so light headed I passed out (not long, just enough for a scare). My dad took me to the doctor who, after performing some typical neurological tests, believed it was best if I go and get a CAT scan, and have some blood drawn. I remember the drive vividly from the doctor’s office to the ER. Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You are Dying” played on the radio, and the tears flowed freely, as my mind raced through possible scenarios, and my father explained the situation to my mom. All I wanted was to travel with my best friend to explore a culture I had learned so much about, not be on my way to find out something was seriously wrong with me.
We got to the hospital, and I was brought back to a large machine. I laid flat on my back and had to look up at a cross (at least this is what I vaguely remember). The test did not seem to last very long, but the waiting felt like it was forever. The doctor cleared me before we left the hospital, and off to dinner we went. I was still waiting for the blood work results to come back from my doctor, but the biggest scare was through, or so my family thought as we ate dinner, laughed, and carried on with life. The next day I boarded the plane to France with some extra granola bars, because the diagnosis was that I needed to eat better, and more often. Life went on.
Have you ever been to an amusement park on those hot days where the sun melts you? Picture me standing in line waiting about 40 minutes for one of the best rides in the park. Super excited, and pumped to be getting pretty close to the starting gate, I couldn’t let on to my friends that I wanted to get out of line and buy some water. What kind of amusement park goer would I be? Instead, the voices swam around my head into a high-pitched whistle, and down, down, down I went. The next thing I recall is this very kind woman offering me water, and it being poured over my head, and my then boyfriend of less than a month whisking me out of line and onto a bench. My other friends ran to find me a sports drink as I regained stability. After everyone felt that I returned to normal, we trekked on and rode all the rides, especially the one where we had to get out of line. There was some concern when I arrived home, but we all assumed I was just dehydrated. Life went on.