The First Signs
It was not long after I returned to work from maternity leave in March that the exhaustion set in. I didn’t pay much attention to it because what new mom is not exhausted? I had absolutely no baseline to compare it to. Three months into work though odd stuff starting happening that I really couldn’t explain and while I knew in my heart that it was just not right, I continued to ignore the symptoms. I had myself convinced that I simply could not make time for myself without risking the needs of everyone else that depended on me. In hindsight, I know that logic is crap. It was very real then, however.
By June, my speech was recognizably slurred, my balance was off and I kept tripping, my handwriting turned to chicken scratch, and I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I called my PCP and 3 days later I was admitted via the ER and being watched for 2 days. All I could think was “WTF. Really? What in the heck is going on? I have a husband, a baby, a job, a mom, a sister who just moved back to this country with my niece and nephew, a family, friends, co-workers, my job, the world, children everywhere, my dogs, my garden, my house, my laundry, the homeless, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, friends without Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, everyone-in-the-world-ever, and in heaven, and yet to be born, and did I mention my job? THEY ALL NEED ME. I need to get out of here.”
I was sent home, by the Neurologist, with a diagnosis of exhaustion. I followed up with my PCP and she was not having it and said, ever-so-professionally, that my diagnosis was “full of shit”. She referred me to another Neurologist who was truly awesome. I got scans of my brain again which led to a preliminary diagnosis of “indicative of MS” followed by scans in late December that were not reviewed until January 7th that were confirmed the diagnosis of MS.
But just to be thorough, I went for a second opinion at the MS Clinic at BIDMC and saw Dr. Sloane, Director of the MS Clinic (Thank you, husband). He looked at my scans from my initial ER admission and my new sets of scans and re-confirmed the diagnosis. All Doctors have recommended treatment in the form of Copaxone which is a immunomodulator. It works by stopping the body from damaging its own nerve cells – specifically myelin.
There are tons of options. And all equally nauseating to consider. Also, no one is able to emphatically tell me that the drugs won’t reduce my chances of conceiving again, won’t harm my fetus, or harm my baby when I nurse. And for me, that means no meds. My disease is at a stage, based on scans, that I don’t feel like this is too much of a risk. It’s a very personal decision and one that we did not take lightly. It is also my decision. And yours may be very different. Take the time to consider all options and do what makes sense for you and only you.
For now, I am committed to a recovery plan that focuses on faith and food. I am choosing “farm” over “pharma”. That does not mean that I do not believe or trust in modern medicine. I absolutely do, but I also believe that the universe is a wild and crazy place and sometimes the answers are in plain sight and SIMPLE. Until my scans suggest otherwise, I will be living and eating Simply Wholly.