Yesterday I received a diagnosis of MS.
My older sister was with me and helped me through the experience as best as she could. She also offered to write a letter to my family and act as a buffer. So, I'm posting her letter here...since I'm sure there will be questions.
First, here's a photo of my 40th birthday weekend in July 2013, since that was right before the symptoms started. Good times.
Here's what my sister wrote to my family:
I hope that you are all doing well. I'm writing per Pam's request. I attended a doctors appointment with her this morning to see a Neurologist specializing in Multiple Sclerosis. Pam has been experiencing some troubling symptoms for a couple months now. Dr. Foley was very thorough with his exam and his review of a MRI taken a couple months ago when she started having some foggy vision. That and the numbness, tingling, weakness in limbs, hypersensitivity to heat/cold on one side of her body and lesions on her brain all led him to diagnose Pam as having Multiple Sclerosis. As you can imagine this is very difficult news to hear and Pam took it as well as could be expected.
"MS is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your central nervous system (CNS) by mistake. This attack damages myelin, the coating that protects nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. When these nerve fibers become damaged, they lose the ability to send signals that help you think, move, or see."
(If you would like to find out more about Multiple Sclerosis, you can find a very informative video here: http://www.
nationalmssociety.org/about- multiple-sclerosis/what-we- know-about-ms/what-is-ms/ index.aspx)
Pam will be undergoing some immediate treatment and further tests to first, mitigate the symptoms of the disease, and second, to determine the aggressiveness of her MS (it's different for everyone). She started on a course of steroidal infusions this afternoon and will have those for another 2 days. She'll be getting another MRI done but this time on her spinal cord to determine if there are lesions on that as well as on her brain. There are other tests too, and I'll gladly tell you about them if you ask. (Note: blood work and eye exams.)
You may feel overwhelmed by this information and want to help but not know how. Pam will need our love and support as she navigates through learning how this will impact her life. Right as this very moment however, she's still grieving. It would be most helpful, if for the first few days we give Pam time to process the emotions and reactions to this news, and refrain from calling her to inquire about it. Flowers, cards, email messages and texts (without expecting a reply) I'm sure would help to buoy her spirits. If you have any questions about what going on, I'd love to talk with you about it, so give ME a call! Please just don't call Pam right now. She needs some time.
And, I do. I'll blog more about it as things progress.
Love to you all!