Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis: My Story

Community Member

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over 20 years ago, and have been living with MS symptoms for 30 years or more - about half my life. I was about 28 and a single mother with two sons when I had my first sign. It was numbness in my left knee that lasted several weeks, maybe six or eight. When my knee was numb, it lasted only an hour or so at a time, and it wasn't every day.

One morning at work I noticed my knee was suddenly numb for the first time. That day I was walking to lunch with friends, and about halfway there my knee felt so weak I could not continue.  I had to stop, and a friend went for his car to help me back to work. The next day, and the day after, the numbness returned for just a short while.

I saw my doctor. He sent me for two neurological tests, Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV). The EMG checks muscles and the nerves that control them to ensure they are healthy. NVC measures the time it takes for an electrical signal to move between one electrode patch and another.

At first, the technician thought test results were invalid because I have a low body temperature and was so cold. She covered me with blankets before trying again. Sending electrical impulses through my body was somewhat painful it was like drawn out shocks, repeated. But the results were still not clear. She tried three extra times, and then asked if there was neurological disease in my family history. I said "No," and the test was over. (Whew)

The world is not a problem; the problem is your unawareness.

~ Bagwran Shree Rajneesh

My doctor told me the test results were inconclusive and I probably had a diseased or dying nerve. I was told to go home and see what happened. Over the next several weeks my knee was numb sometimes, and sometimes it was not. Soon the numbness went anyway completely and did not come back. I did not think of it again until I was diagnosed with MS.

Of course, my body was not finished sending me signs, but I did not know how to read them. About four years later, I began to lose control of my right hand and my balance was unsteady.  Multiple sclerosis never came to mind because I was unaware of MS and its symptoms. Throughout the years there were still other signs, but they were varied in nature and I went to different doctors so a pattern was not evident. There was not yet an Internet and the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) had just been invented in the UK, so it was not readily available nor widely understood. My individual events seemed just like that individual, unrelated medical episodes. They were just little bumps in the road. I kept going, working, mothering, and kept playing.

"The closest to being in control we will ever be is

the moment we realize we are not."

~ Brian Kessler