What actually is Multiple Sclerosis?
Gosh, you would think this would be a straightforward answer but alas, of all the autoimmune diseases out there, my tiny five foot body decided it would settle on one of the most complicated ones! (Anyone who knows me, knows everything about me is a little bit ‘extra’ anyway.)
It is a disease that is caused by your immune system attacking your brain and your nerves, this results in a whole bunch of symptoms which I am still pretty new to, but am going through nonetheless.
The first time I ever got any symptoms, I remember being excited to throw myself back into my work as a barber at the time; it was towards the end of the pandemic, I hadn’t worked for nearly a whole year and was honestly on the verge of losing my shit from being in the house all day every day.
Anyway, I woke up anticipating the day ahead - I decided it was going to be a good day at work and I was happy to be back in a routine I was so familiar and comfortable with. I got through the day as I normally would, running on caffeine, anxiety, talking like it was going out of fashion and just generally not really paying much attention to myself. When I got home and decided it was finally time to relax, I noticed that the numbness in my leg that I noticed earlier that morning hadn’t gone, (I just put it down to me sleeping funny on that leg, as most people would) but shrugged it off and didn’t think much of it.
Fast forward to a couple of days later, this numbness in my leg had now taken over my entire body, including my hands - which I needed for work. I had also become really weak, I couldn’t lift my arms for very long, I was struggling to walk properly because my legs felt like jelly constantly, my hands were so shaky and numb I couldn’t use them for much, oh and the back pain was hellish. I remember ringing the doctors and because of the ongoing pandemic, they wouldn’t see me in person - instead they told me it sounded like I had a slipped disc or sciatica, not to worry, it would go away soon with the right painkillers.
I set up camp on my couch for the next 3 weeks, I felt right back to square one, in the middle of a pandemic with no work, no hobbies and no motivation. Soon enough, it got to the end of these 3 weeks off work and safe to say, I did not feel any better and now I was getting a little suspicious and thinking maybe it’s something other than a slipped disc or sciatica. Due to my own health anxiety, I did the best thing for myself and stayed well away from Googling symptoms because it takes you down a rabbit hole that usually ends up with you having about 3 days left to live, so hurry up and tell everyone how much you love them quick! But I did ring the hospital and explained everything to them, they then decided they wanted to see me right away because it sounded serious. So off I went, blissfully unaware of what was actually going on!
After a few weeks in and out of the hospital, MRI scans, a lumbar puncture, too many blood tests to count and some IV steroids, I was finally told what was wrong with me - Multiple Sclerosis. It has been one hell of a journey so far and I know it is far from over, but I remain hopeful that I can live a normal life with it. Hopefully sharing this experience will give other people hope and give a little bit more of a clue as to what it is and what life is like living with it!