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Diagnosing and Living With Multiple Sclerosis

Lou Stella Barron

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Multiple Sclerosis is possibly the most difficult disease to diagnose. The symptoms are vague and widespread, mimicing other diseases. The cause of MS is unknown and there is no cure. If you exhibit any of the symptoms from my last article, you need to see your Doctor!

There are several Tests for Multiple Sclerosis. No 2 people experience the same symptoms, nor do they share the exact same test results. The Tests for MS include:

1) MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the Brain and Spine
2) Spinal Tap
3) Sed Rate (Lab work to show Inflammation)
4) Nerve Conduction tests (Done in your Neurologists’ Office)

Your History of symptoms and Physical exam are also considered. You will be checked for strength, coordination, response to stimuli and how you walk.

Once your diagnosis is confirmed you will be set up for a personalized treatment plan. Physical Therapy helps keep your muscles from atrophy (shrinkage) and stiffness. Steroid infusions help with inflammation from the damaged nerves. There is new medication that helps to stabilize your symptoms. You won't get better, but the progression is reduced.

The biggest keys in fighting this disease are Determination and Stubborness. Luckily, I have both! It took some time for these to surface, but when they did I took the bull by the horns and fought the good fight!

After my first 6 years of undiagnosed symptoms I developed difficulty swallowing. That, with my other symptoms, finally triggered my doctor to test for MS. When the results were positive, I was actually relieved. I thought I was just going crazy! I then began treatment. It helped some, but it made me sick.

About a year and a half ago I was eating Macaroni and Cheese. Something felt funny in my neck and it hurt to swallow or breath. My feet started swelling and I developed a cough. I layed down one night and the next thing I remember I woke up in ICU tied down to a bed with something taped to my nose. I thought I died and went to Hell! I was TERRIFIED!!

I soon learned that I had aspirated the Macaroni and Cheese and developed a life threatening case of Pneumonia. I had been in a coma and on a Lung Respirator for 13 days. The first 5 days of this my doctor told my family to start making funeral arrangements for me. I can only imagine what they were going through!

My aunt held a prayer ritual for me at her church, and miraculously I started improving on the 6th day!! This experience completely changed my insight on life. Hold it dear to your heart because one night you might go to sleep and never wake up.

My boys and I were already close, but this tightened the bond between us. They are the reason I fight to stay on this earth. Fortunately, my stubbornness to stay alive is effective. I also was told by my boys that I drove the nurses crazy while I was in the coma. I kept coughing up the tube! The nurses had to wrap tape around my head to hold the tube in, and tie me down so I wouldn't pull it out!

I deal with MS one day at a time. My new insight taught me that things could be much worse! I do try to do more than I should, resulting in falls. I never was graceful, anyway, but I reached a new level of clumsiness. We laugh about it when I fall or drop things. Laughter is a great cure. Now if one of my boys shows signs of clumsiness, they say “Oops! I pulled a Lou"!

To sum it up, no matter what life throws at you, you CAN make the best of it. Being alive is something we take for granted. It can go away in the blink of an eye!

I've been a single mom of two wonderful boys since 1994. I had to end my cherished 25 year career in the Radiology Profession due to Multiple Sclerosis. My boys have always been my greatest inspiration to keep me fighting and never giving up! I now, proudly, work from home!


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