31 Days of MS: How could I forget the date of my first MS symptoms?

BioNews Staff avatar

by BioNews Staff |

Share this article:

Share article via email
The 31 Days of MS 2023 banner.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Zarek

Day 29 of 31

This is Samantha Zarek’s story:

July 26, 2006 is a date I will always remember: That was the onset of my symptoms.

My mom had emergency surgery that morning and when I told her that I saw two of her, she thought I was joking. I tried to get up and I fell down. I had double vision, terrible vertigo, and severe balance issues.

From that date until mid-February 2007, I saw five different clinicians — my primary care doctor, a neurologist, an ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist), an ophthalmologist, and a neuro-opththalmologist. Every doctor kept stating the same thing: “I don’t know.” Finally, my primary care doctor sent out referrals to the major hospitals.

On Feb. 15, 2007, I got the official diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). My husband was one of the first people I told. He immediately started doing research into MS.

I’ve had multiple relapses over my 16 years with this MonSter. The two biggest were April 24, 2014, when I had optic neuritis due to stress brought on by the unexpected loss of my father, and Aug. 9, 2016, when my entire left side went numb for almost three months. I relapsed last summer due to overheating while at work.

Sept. 29, 2022 was the date I transitioned to active secondary progressive MS. It’s been a hard pill to swallow.

My balance has gotten to the point that I use a rollator at work. My service dog, Kuma, helps me up when I fall and during the times when my balance is worse. I’ve been on five therapies: Avonex, Copaxone, Rebif, Tecfidera and now Tysabri.

I do have family and friends who have been helping. In my relationships, my husband is my rock. He’s been with me through those two massive relapses and it did not scare him.

Unfortunately, when you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness, you find out who are your true friends and who are just acquaintances. I can count those true friends on one hand. My best friend of almost 30 years has seen me at my worst and still wants to come take care of me. She is another rock I lean on when I need it.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for MS Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.

Damian Washington video 2 thumbnail