For the past couple of years I have been speaking to the Occupational Therapy students at Dalhousie University about living with MS. I truly enjoy these speaking engagements as I am not afraid to speak publicly about an illness that has for long time been kept out of the public eye. (The reasons for that are many and will be the subject of another post.) I am eager to share my experiences as these folks may be part of my care taking team at some point. And for these students to have a face to put with the disease makes more of an impact than to just read about it in the text books, not to mention the fact that as time goes on, we are discovering more things about MS that need to be in those texts.
One of the main points I try to stress when speaking with these students, or any group really, is how lucky I am.
Some folks may say that I am blessed with a guardian angel or that the planets and stars aligned at the right time. Some may say that fate had already decided my (mis)fortunes. I say I've got a horseshoe up my butt.
1. I know my body and I know when things are going wonky. I wasn't running to the doctor for minor aches and pains and things that could be discussed at my annual "well woman check-up" (code for Pap smear).
2. I had (and still have) one of the best family docs in the world who had come to know me over the years and trust me. Having your family doc trust you is just as important as trusting in her.
3. My family doc studied under Dr. Murray when he was heading up the MS Clinic here in Halifax.
4. My family doc has someone close to her who also has MS.
5. My initial symptoms were deemed emergent enough that I was seen in the emergency department after my family doc phoned to say I was coming in and to get the neurologist ready.
6. After a consult with the neurologist and an MRI, I was given a diagnosis. The neuro was also affiliated with the MS Clinic and was recruiting possible MS patients for drug studies.
7. I have a curious mind. I want to know how things work, especially where biological functions are concerned. I agreed to participate in the drug study.
8. I have a naturally positive outlook on things. Poop happens. Deal with it.
I am lucky that things happened the way they did. Some folks wait years before a diagnosis and as a result miss out on a window of opportunity to treat the disease early and possibly prevent worsening of symptoms. I was diagnosed very quickly.
I am lucky I live in a city that has the equipment and experts to diagnose.
I am lucky I fit a profile with a prevalence of MS.
I am lucky I am on a drug (paid for by the provincial government) that is probably a big part of why I don't look like the poster child for MS.
Horseshoe up my butt? You bet.