31 Days of MS: Facing my worst with my best

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by BioNews Staff |

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Julie Wigley sits on her knees on a balance ball, wearing boxing gloves.

Photo courtesy of Julie Wigley

Day 11 of 31

This is Julie Wigley‘s story:

In 2010, I started having numbness in my legs, specifically when I’d look down.

I didn’t think much of it, but mentioned it to my primary care doctor during a routine visit. Her face changed and after that moment I officially started my journey of “We have no idea what’s wrong with you.”

After tests, scans, and more tests, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called transverse myelitis, which can sometimes be the first sign of multiple sclerosis (MS).

I lived with this diagnosis, my numb legs, and the fear that there was more around the corner for seven years. In August 2017, at my yearly MRI, new lesions appeared on my scans, and I was officially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.

Finally getting the right diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. I was able to start a treatment plan and totally look this thing in the face.

First thing I did, even before my official diagnosis, was to make a promise to myself. I’d take care of my body. I’d work to become the strongest version of myself within my limitations. I wanted to be at my best in case I had to face my worst.

I’ve been fortunate to have very mild symptoms. I believe the treatment I’m getting is helping stop any further progression. I got to know my “forever symptoms,” which for me are leg numbness, slight dizziness, and on hot days, numbness on one side of my mouth. They come and go, and I know this. Knowing has helped me control my anxiety and be more aware when something new occurs that I may need to alert my doctor about.

I always get asked, “How can you be so positive?” What’s the alternative? You keep your head up. You push when you can push. You rest when you need to rest. MS is not a death sentence.

For anyone just getting diagnosed, my advice is to just keep moving anyway you can. Find a strong support system. Learn and listen to your body. Always be an advocate for your health. Ask your doctor, not Google, when you’re confused.

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.