Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Life Before MS

Life was normal, or at least what I thought was normal. I started out volunteering at Staten Island Hospital, because from the time I was a little girl I had always wanted to be a nurse. I got my first EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification at the age of 18 & was employed at a nursing home as well as an ambulance company in Long Island. Along with that I was attending classes for nursing. I was on my way to having my dream come true. I guess you could call me an over achiever, but I've always been an all or nothing kinda girl.

Due to my perceived need to achieve my goals quickly, I put my own health in jeopardy. I had been taking care of people all my life & I was still doing it. You would think that after being in and around health care for most of my life, that I would know that I had to take care of myself. I never really learned how to do that though. My work & class schedules were rigorous & I was getting little to no sleep. I had my first heart attack at the age of 19. As I laid in the emergency room, the only thing I thought about was that I needed to be at work at 7am & that I was too young to have a heart attack. I wasn't doing drugs, so that couldn't be the reason. It never crossed my mind that my diet during this time had been coffee, cigarettes & maybe a bagel or slice of pizza once in a while. I signed myself out of the hospital AMA (Against Medical Avice) & went to work. Not too long after that I ended up with a back injury & it put me out of work permanently a few months later.

I had gotten pregnant & after my son was born it was expected that I marry his father, since I already had a daughter out of wedlock. After 13 months of an abusive marriage, I finally found the courage to get out of it. Of course it wasn't without great pains due to the fact that I had to get out & leave my son in his crib sleeping. I had to keep him safe & he was safer there in his crib than in my arms trying to escape my husband trying to kill me. Throughout that time I had been seeing a neurologist for my back injury as well as migraines. I had been having migraines since I was 9yrs old. It took many years of trial & error to find something to keep them at bay. I had moved to various places & landed in New Orleans in August of 1999

In May of 2000, I went to pick my daughter up at the bus stop. As I sat there waiting, my vision in my left eye got blurry. I rubbed my eye figuring it may have been my makeup & when that didn't work, I looked in the mirror but couldn't find anything. After my daughter got in the car, we went home & I called my Dr. She told me to come in immediately & then sent me straight over to the ophthalmologist for further tests. After he examined me, he sat in front of me to tell me that he believed I was having an episode of optic neuritis & that it's usually directly linked to Multiple Sclerosis. Off to another specialist, this time a neuro-ophthalmologist.

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