Struggles and successes in my first full year since my diagnosis of MS

My 2023 offered happy memories as well as the disease progression and change

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by Mike Parker |

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Where has the year gone?

As we move closer to Christmas and a new year, I’ve pondered what the past 12 months of change have brought to my life.

At the beginning of the year, I was working full time and still coming to terms with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) that I’d received a few months prior. I began wondering about the effects of MS treatments, as I knew little about them at the time. But my symptoms were getting worse, and it was clear that my life would be very different than I’d expected.

That January, I had a meeting with my MS specialist nurse, who explained my treatment options. I then had to wait until the MS multidisciplinary team, which advises the National Health Service here in England, signed off on a plan. I began my first treatment, the only one the team recommended, midway through February.

My MS nurse explained that treatment: Ocrevus (ocrelizumab). I jumped at the chance to take it because my condition was becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

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Troubling symptoms

I was experiencing quite a few falls at home because my right foot dragged as I moved. This symptom, known as foot drop, occurs when the nerve pathways between the brain and legs are disrupted, making it difficult to lift the front of the foot to the correct angle for stepping. That became a significant problem for me, enough so that I now use crutches to compensate. When my disease progression made walking to work unsafe, I had to buy a mobility scooter.

My MS hug, a term for pressure and pain around the chest, also was getting worse as the year began. This symptom, typically caused by damaged nerves in the brain or spinal column, made me feel as if water drops were falling on my head, atop of pain across my legs and back and short-term memory issues.

Life was tough.

After I stopped working at the end of April, a void was left in its place. By early summer, I realized I needed to accept some mental health support to grasp what was happening to me. I reached out to my doctor to talk about how my diagnosis had made me feel. That led to talking with a counselor, who offered advice on coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, I had support from family and friends.

Successes amid all the change

Despite these struggles and change, I’m filled with pride when I look back on this time because I kept battling, holding my head high, and finding ways to adapt — all of which have been vital in helping me see things in a positive light.

In one of my most significant achievements, I started a podcast about my journey since diagnosis. I want it to help others, but it also helped me by providing an outlet for my thoughts and fears. Talking has been a relief, along with finding relaxation time in the garden and trying to learn guitar.

So while it’s been a hard year, 2023 has also left me with more happy memories than I’d expected. I’m aware of what’s been achieved and am looking ahead with the hope to raise awareness and boost others on this journey.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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