We all have those memories that are frozen hard in our brains. Those memories that are crystal clear etched in stone. I had one of those days recently. June 2nd. On that day my world changed.
On May 31st I noticed something. Something slight and what seemed to be small. I noticed it had become a little difficult to say certain words. I would stumble over them. Almost like I was trying to talk too fast and my mouth couldn't keep up. Big surprise...me talking too fast? It almost seemed unnoticeable. But it was there. I couldn't explain it but it was there. So I shrugged it off like I typically do with matters of my own health. I figured maybe I worked out too hard at the gym and my body was depleted and couldn't keep up. The next day it was still there. Those pesky words tripping me up. I started to notice it more. I wrestled with the feeling of frustration and the feeling of worry. I wanted to just shrug it off again, but as the day progressed it became increasingly worse. That night as I was reading Olivia her bedtime stories I had to hand it over to Brian. I couldn't read. I mean, I could read but I was having difficulty letting the words roll off my tongue. It was like my tongue was in quicksand. My pace of speech just to form certain words was noticeably changed. This scared me. It made my mind race with what if's. The what if game is a slippery slope. Soon you find your mind racing with the worst scenarios and the feeling of panic slowly creeps in. I was there. In the thick of it.
Sleep did not come easy that night. I decided I would call the doctor in the morning and schedule a visit. But that visit never happened. When I called the doctor and explained my symptoms I was advised to immediately go to the emergency room. Yep. There it was again. Panic. So I put Olivia down for her nap, and told my husband I was going to the emergency room. I didn't want Olivia to have to go, and since we are without family nearby, he had to stay home with her. And let me tell you...I am terrified of emergency rooms, doctors and most of all needles. So this was a huge deal for me. But I was scared enough of the what if's that I went.
Upon my arrival, I explained my symptoms and my fear of all things hospital to the nurse. Thank God she was kind. She comforted me and made me feel at ease. She did then give me an IV and take what seemed like and exorbitant amount of blood...but I won't hold that against her. I was then sent for a CatScan and MRI. Oh the joy. Why is it when you are told you can't move for 30 minutes in a very tight machine that you feel all of the wiggles. I swear, two minutes in an itch in the inner most depths of my ear began to nag. It took SO much will power not to scratch! And again, so blessed with wonderful hospital personnel. They were so kind and comforting.
After all of those tests while I waited for the doctor to arrive, Brian showed up. My best friend had driven down after work to hang out with Olivia so Brian could be with me. Thank God for that! 5 minutes after he arrived the doctor came in. He sat on his shiny black stool and turned on the computer. He opened images of my brain. And here is the thing about me...when I am uncomfortable I make jokes and I laugh. So of course I blurted out "wow. Thats a big brain. Must be why I am so smart". Yep. I said that. Gosh...insert foot here. The doctor then scrolled to an image that looked like it belonged to a leopard. My brain had a bunch of white spots all over it. Roughly 16. And my heart sank. He looked at me and said "so, you have MS". Bam! sucker punch to my gut. My heart left my body and my stomach was now in my throat. I had to remind myself to breathe. It was hard to hear him explaining much after that because frankly, my head was spinning. I managed to choke out "Am I going to die?" to which he reassured me that I am not. He explained the basics of the disease but referred me to a neurologist who specializes in MS.
My visit with the neurologist a few weeks later was very informative. I feel like I learned a lot about this disease that I unfortunately now get to call my own. This diagnosis explains a lot of what I thought were random health things that have happened to me for the past 5 years. He explained that I have had this for a while but have just existed undiagnosed and unmedicated. So we talked about what to do from here. We ordered my medicine and I had to come to terms with both the idea that I have this destructive disease, and that I will have to give myself daily shots from now on. Yes...daily shots...for the girl who is terrified of needles. Seems like a cruel joke. I have to remind myself daily that the shot is better than letting this disease go unchecked and out of control. I have to remind myself that I am strong. And most of all I have to remind myself that God created me and loves me more than I can even fathom...that He will use this in ways much bigger than I can understand. There have been quite a few songs that have really redirected my focus and quashed my fear. This song by Danny Gokey, this part in particular feels like it is spoken to me from God:
Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun"
These words bring me comfort and hope. Those two things are huge right now as I face what feels like an insurmountable giant. Overtime fear and panic creep in, He reminds me that I am His daughter and He loves me. He will NEVER leave me. And that is enough.
My sweet friend Ashlee Weaver of Ashlee Kay Photography took some amazing photos of my little family wearing the awesome MS shirts my little sister Briana made me. She is offering MS shirts with a portion going to The Multiple Sclerosis Society in support of me and in the fight to find the cure.