I have had regular checkups for a year since my wedding. It was not because we needed a doctor’s help to get pregnant, no – my husband and I wanted to wait for two more years before having a baby. I got appointments with various doctors because I was dealing with multiple conditions almost every month.
The first time it happened, my vision was blurry for a few days. As far as I knew, it was 20/20; that’s why I did not wear prescription glasses. The ophthalmologist reiterated the same reading, so she told me to get anti-radiation glasses to protect my eyes while I was working. It did not eliminate the blurriness until I got a few days off work and rested for a while.
A month later, I went to a urologist’s clinic because my bladder did not feel like it was ever empty. The doctor ruled out a urinary tract infection, so he wanted to do more tests on me. While waiting, I was ordered to drink more water.
After that, I dealt with muscle spasms and poor coordination. Things got to the point where I almost fell down the stairs a few times, so my husband took me to a specialist. I agreed, thinking that I would get muscle relaxants or – if I was lucky – a full-body massage prescription. That’s initially what the doctor wanted to do until I slipped up and mentioned my trips to other specialists in the last few months.
“Just to be sure,” the doctor said, “You should do an MRI scan and have your blood tested. I will call you when I have the results to interpret.”
However, when the test results came out, I was across the country, so the doctor told me that he could wait until I returned to discuss it. But I was stubborn – I wanted to know what’s up with my body immediately – so I insisted on hearing about it over the phone.
Learning About Multiple Sclerosis
Ever since the doctor said that I had multiple sclerosis, I could not will myself to cry or blame the gods. No, thanks – I was never that dramatic. Although the diagnosis shocked me, it made me feel relief because it was not cancer or worse. At the same time, I could not wait for two more days to learn more about my case straight from the doctor, so I went online right after our call.
The first thing I learned was that multiple sclerosis was an autoimmune disorder. The immune system, which we all depend on to keep us safe from foreign substances inside the body, turned against me – that’s what I understood. Why and how it happened, even the experts could still not figure it out.
For multiple sclerosis patients like me, whenever the immune system would act up, it would attack my nervous system, especially the nerves that send signals to various body parts. Though these were comparable to the copper wires inside the electrical cables, the immune system could not always pass through the myelin to enveloped the axons. Still, such covering could get hurt and endure scarring, to the extent that the axons would be exposed and could not send electrical signals throughout the body.
Looking After My Mental Health
I looked deep down myself and asked, “Am I still okay?” Fortunately, I was.
I must admit that I felt a little scared after finding out that I was forever stuck with multiple sclerosis. While it did not require me to do chemotherapy or radiation therapy and lose my hair in the process, the disease would always shadow me from that moment. If I could not be careful, my immune system could attack my nerves all the time.
But I chose to focus on that “if” part to ease my anxiety as I looked for potential trigger factors of my disease. If I stay indoors often and not get enough vitamin D, the myelin around my axons may sustain more scarring. If I continue being around my husband when he smokes, my immunity can retaliate. If I remain under the sun for too long or catch a virus, both can increase my temperature and push my immune system to act up.
So, I thought, “Hmm, I need to do the opposite of all that.” I informed my husband about my autoimmune disease, and he vowed to stop smoking at that instant. Although he was not a chain smoker by a long shot, he would not light up another cigarette again – a true testament of love.
Then, we started going on light jogs and hikes before the sun rose. We would remain outdoors until around 8 A.M. and go to work until 4 P.M. In the evenings, we would take immunity-strengthening vitamins so that neither of us would catch the flu. My husband also surprised me when I came home to brand-new air conditioners in the living room and master’s bedroom. This way, I had low chances of feeling too hot anytime.
My autoimmune disease still catches me off-guard sometimes, but I already know what signs to watch out for. The doctor also recommended MS therapy for me, which stabilized my mental health further as I knew that my chances of being disabled were low.