Being Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS): My Journey

Gina Gunkel Health Guide
  • This is my first post. But, don't get me wrong, I'm not new to MS. I was diagnosed what seems like forever ago, in 1991. I was 23 at the time, with all the hopes and plans of - well - a 23 year old.

    For anyone going through the diagnosis process, try not to be scared by all the bad things that "might" happen to you. Since it affects the nervous system, MS is a disease that can generate a wide range of symptoms. But I don't know anyone who has every symptom listed in the doctors office pamphlets. So, don't look at them as a list of ailments that you will face cumulatively. Think of them as things you might experience at different times or in different combinations. And many of them, you might never experience!

    Whatever your symptoms are, you'll find yourself adjusting to this "new normal". The disease will not define your life, and it will rarely prevent you from doing things that you want to. You may have to make adjustments, but you are still you, and your dreams are still attainable.

    For me, this was probably the hardest part about being diagnosed - I had this mental roadmap of my life, and here was a detour that I didn't expect. My diagnosis also came as a shock, because none of the doctors told me they suspected MS. I was experiencing numbness in my leg, so my physician sent me to a neurologist, and he in turn referred me to a specialist. When I arrived at the specialist's office, the sign on the lobby door said "MS Care". That was a bit of a surprise.

    Because this disease can affect sensory or motor functions, any time you feel something unusual, you tend to think it's related to MS. One time, I woke up feeling wobbly, and my balance was off. Right away I got worried because I thought I was having an MS "exacerbation". Wrong! A visit to the doctor "cleared" things up with a decongestant tablet. I was getting a cold and inner ear congestion was causing the problem. But it's normal to wonder if any odd or unusual feeling is MS. When in doubt, don't hesitate to call your doctor.

    Even though you have the diagnosis, you still have the pleasure of the normal aches and pains of life and growing older. The 16+ years after my own diagnosis has taught me that even though there have been some rough spots, our life is the best journey that we could be on, pot holes or not.

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Published On: October 11, 2007