Tracey, Kirkland, WA

Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007.

tracey-portrait

Having always been a very active and athletic person, learning I had MS was like being kicked in the stomach. This, on top of losing my brother and best friend to another autoimmune disease some 5 years earlier, was almost more than I could handle. But let’s go back a few years and bring you up to speed.

One afternoon I was doing something I did every day after work which was walking my dog. On this particular day, we decided to walk in a woodsy area complete with trails, creaks and slippery leaves on the ground. Just as we were heading out of the park, I decided to jump with my dog across a creek and when I landed I definitely knew something was very very wrong. What exactly was wrong I didn’t know, but what I did know was my legs had never hurt so badly and the way they felt was something I’d never experienced before. The ache was deep and intense along with my legs feeling stiff and ridged, almost as though they weren’t mine. What I did next was totally and completely counterproductive and in hind sight, not very smart, but I was so scared so I decided not to tell anyone and simply went home. Months went by without any episodes like the one at the park, and I slowly forgot about it.

However little things kept happening like continual tripping or my hands and feet feeling like they were tingling as though they had been asleep. I also noticed my gut ached a lot of the time and it was a different ache than a stomach ache where you might have eaten to many tasty snack treats the night before. No, this was very different and something that I needed to tell someone about.

Interestingly enough, as a child I had been diagnosed with Scoliosis and wore one of those hideous 10 lb. back braces for 3-4 years during Jr high and high school. So my assumption was all of this had to have something to do with my scoliosis and a nerve must be being pinched or something simple like that. As a result Scott and I made an appointment to visit the orthopedic department at one of the large reputable hospitals in the area.

As our mouths dropped open, not knowing what we had just been told, we blindly looked at each other and questioned what the future might bring.

Now, having been x-rayed from top to bottom, we were waiting in the exam room hoping for a simple and fixable diagnosis. As the door opened, in came a rather stern looking doctor who said, “Well Tracey, I don’t think what your complaining about has anything to do with your scoliosis. I believe you either have a brain tumor, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or you may have MS.” And with that he said he was sorry, grabbed his chart and indicated he would be back in a few minutes. As our mouths dropped open, not knowing what we had just been told, we blindly looked at each other and questioned what the future might bring. Just then a nurse came in and told us the doctor wanted me to come back in two days to have a complete brain and spine MRI and be seen by the neurology department. Never having an MRI before, I had no idea what I was in store for. I then remember the nurse saying how fortunate I was to be seen here as one of the most respected and sought after MS doctors in the country worked right here in this hospital. At the time I had no idea just how significant this was going to be, but boy, oh boy, was it.

We returned two days later after 48 hours of much needed family support, prayer and endless conversation about what all this could mean for me and my family. As we waited in the exam room of the neurology department there was very gentle knock on the door. Next, in came the loveliest, warmest doctor with a huge reassuring smile who introduced herself as Doctor Mariko Kita. As she started to talk I threw up my hand and asked three very important questions. First, do I have a brain tumor? “No.” Next, do I have ALS? “No.” And last, do I have MS? And with a wonderfully reassuring smile she said, “Yes, it looks that way”. And with that we spent the next 30 minutes or so talking about what my diagnosis really meant and what my options might be.

If you have unanswered issues similar to mine, don’t wait like I did. Find answers because waiting is not your friend.

This brings me to the end of my diagnosis story and I look forward to sharing with you what came next, but for now I will leave you with a very important something I’ve learned. If you have unanswered issues similar to mine, don’t wait like I did. Find answers because waiting is not your friend. It’s my personal experience that help is “out there but you can’t get the help if you don’t find out what is wrong. Many blessings to you and until next time…

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