Monday, January 21, 2008

Starting Over

29 and living with MS. You would have thought I would be depressed. Not the case. In fact I felt alive. I was thankful to be alive. No brain surgery needed, and I thought that was a great step forward.

That first month I went crazy because I wasn’t able to work, and I couldn’t get out of the house much on my own. This was all because my vision took a good month before it was back to normal. I should qualify normal. Normal meaning I could see without any problems. However, I’m still plagued with extremely sensitive eyes. And my vision can become a bit off if my body overheats.

I remember telling everyone I had MS. I was not scared of the consequences. EVERYONE embraced me (work, family, friends, etc….). They knew I would rebound.

I’m now two years away from my diagnosis. I’m still doing great. I have very minimal problems, and I am able to manage my MS. My last MRI revealed no lesion activity.

I’m currently on Rebif. There was two months when I was on Tysabri, but I had a severe allergic reaction to it during my second infusion.

So someone that was terrified with needles can now inject himself three times a week. It took time to get to where I am. Over a year ago there were times when it would literally take me hours to muster the courage to click the auto inject button. Hours!!! Can you even imagine?

Now I can prep, inject and clean up in less than four minutes. I rock!

It’s funny. My MS hasn’t even been that big of a problem for me. I’ve encountered much larger problems.

Keri and I had been married for just under seven years and together for ten when I found out she was having an affair on me. Again, a story for another day. The good news is I finally landed on my feet.

I am divorced now, but I found someone that means the absolute world to me. When I thought things were not going to improve for a long time, I found hope.

A little bit about me: Born and raised in Indiana. I’m on the senior leadership team of a software company. I love to run. I breathe Indiana University basketball. I just bought an awesome house a few months ago. Built in 1922 and completely restored. Beautiful.

Well there is a whole lot to me. My strategy with this blog is for you to slowly discover me. I hope I’m not too boring. I promise the creativity will start flowing with the next blog. For some reason I just felt it necessary to lay a little foundation before jumping in.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

From the Top

This has been a long time coming. I’m finally back to blogging after being absent for 13 months. So MUCH has changed within that very short time.

But before I dive into what has transpired, I would like to provide some context around why I want to post. My mission: Share my experiences with multiple sclerosis and educate the masses.

My MS story: During late October of 2005 I was out on a casual four mile run. Picture perfect day. No clouds. 70s. No humidity. An absolutely gorgeous fall day….except….except for the fact when I looked out into the horizon at a certain tree, I noticed it didn’t seem as clear as it should have been. For the rest of the run I noticed that things were just slightly out of focus. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. I was preparing to turn 30, and I figured my eyesight might be slowly deteriorate. A trip to the optometrist would clear everything up.

Two days passed. My vision worsened. It felt like I was walking in a tunnel. I wasn’t able to see well in my peripheral vision. On top of that I began to stumble here and there. My balance wasn’t right. Now I was starting to get nervous.

It was a Sunday afternoon when my then wife, Keri, took me to the ready-med location. Their diagnosis: an inner ear infection. What? How is that possible I asked. How does an inner ear infection cause vision problems? The balance part made sense but not the vision. I was given some medicine and told to stay home for a couple of days until the virus was out of my system.

Keri left on Monday morning for a business trip in Kansas City. I sat around the apartment waiting for my “inner ear” problem to work its way out.

Needless to say, it didn’t. Wednesday afternoon I ordered pizza. I pulled out the checkbook for the pizza, and I realized I could barely see the text. Uh oh. Not good.

Thursday morning I woke up and my vision was “bouncy.” I could not focus with both eyes open. Then the real shocker happened. As I put mouthwash I realized some of the liquid was squeezing out of the right side of the mouth. I was in shock. What was going on?

I then understood. I had little control or feeling over/within the right side of my face. In fact I couldn’t see my neckline by my right ear.

I’ll never forget the rest of that day. Optometrist to family doctor to neurologist. Keri flew up immediately when I was admitted to the hospital. My family came ASAP. That evening I experienced my first ever MRI. It’s a piece of cake now, but I feared death for the first time as I entered that small portal. There were concerns a tumor was putting pressure on my optical nerves. Nothing like the thought of a tumor sitting in my brain.

I can without a doubt say that Thursday evening was the longest and most miserable night of my life. I waited until the morning for the final results. Keri slept next to me in a horribly uncomfortable chair.

Dawn came along with additional tests. During that final round of test the doctor entered the room. His words to me, “Michael. Everything points exactly to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.” Oh my God. What does that even me? I immediately asked if I would walk. Would I ever regain my vision? What about the feeling in my face? I have to drink out of straw.

Fear of the unknown. A powerful weapon that can eat away at us all.

I told Keri my diagnosis but could not hold back the flood of tears, sadness and fear. Once the tears were over, it was time to get to business. I WAS going to get better.

And I did.

Three days of steroid drips followed by a month out of work, and I was finally back to 100%. Almost like it never happened.

Much has transpired since then. Over the next few blogs I will begin to re-cap my life and explain how I’m beating my MS.