When I was 17, my first MS symptoms appeared. My hands (or was it just one? can’t remember) were “numb”. It was just a minor annoyance, and eventually it went away. For the next 20 years, symptoms came and went. Mostly it was numbness in my legs and feet, a couple of times my hands.
September 1, 2011
Right before my wedding, when I was 21, there was a time when I couldn’t see out of one eye, like it had a gray film over it, and I also couldn’t hear out of one ear. These weren’t simultaneous, but happened within weeks of each other and lasted a week or two each. I went to doctors and had them both checked out, and everything was “normal”. I researched my symptoms…I guess I went to the library, as this was before widespread internet…and MS came up as a possibility. I remember crying and telling Craig I didn’t want to have MS, we were just about to get married, how would this affect us? He was reassuring, and as the symptoms subsided, I tried not to think about it.
However, from that time on, it was always in the back of my mind. I pretty much knew I had it. I kept having periods of numbness in my feet and legs over the years. It would last about 6 weeks and then go away. In every other way, I felt and functioned normally.
After our huge stressful episode in 2002/2003, things got a little bit worse. It still came and went, but my legs would tire out after a lot of walking. I began to avoid things like a full day at the zoo with friends.
Over the winter of 2005/2006, there was a turning point. I was 35 and had children aged 8, 5, and 3. I had what I consider my first, and worst, full-fledged exacerbation. My legs were numb, but to a greater degree than before. But the biggest difference was how I felt. I was exhausted. I couldn’t mop the kitchen floor without feeling like I had just run a marathon. One morning I was ironing a skirt for church, and I just couldn’t do it. I had to sit down. I told Craig “Something is wrong with me”. It wasn’t a revelation, it was finally admitting that I needed help.