Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
Never Underestimate Multiple Sclerosis
Brandon Price -- Wright County, Minnesota
I was diagnosed with MS in 2012, the year that changed my life forever. I had symptoms dating back to 2009 (or earlier), but being in the US Army at the time, it was expected of me to be in the best shape of my life physically, mentally, and emotionally, so I would just ignore the issues I was having.
Shortly after I was discharged, I was being wheeled into the ER where I was given morphine and received my very first MRI. My legs were in so much pain, they were so heavy, and my brain was severely malfunctioning too. After I came out of the MRI, they wheeled me back to my room, and I was told that I needed to follow-up with a neurologist immediately.
A few weeks later, there I was, 24 years old sitting face-to-face with a neurologist that was about to deliver the news to me. This day is burned into my soul, I was so devastated and I felt my already fragile life completely derailing. He said, “Brandon, I am sorry to tell you this, but you have multiple sclerosis”. I finally had my answers of why my legs were so heavy and my thoughts/memory weren’t clear anymore. I left that appointment very sad, very worried, and so scared that I spiraled into deep, deep depression for many years. Having gone to war before, and at that moment, I knew I would be at war for the rest of my life.
The first several years after I was diagnosed, I didn’t do anything about my MS, that’s my biggest regret. My neurologist would say, “you have many more lesions, are you sure you’re doing okay?” I would always respond with “yes, I am doing fine”, because I knew that meant I wouldn’t have to face my illness or my neurologist for another year.
Fast forward to 2017-2018, when I had a severe relapse with lesions everywhere, that’s when I knew I needed to finally face my MS. MS has stolen a lot from me over the years, and I am here to tell you, do not make the same mistakes I did. Avoiding MS will do nothing good for you, I’ve done that. I do not care if you change your diet, exercise more, or you get on a disease modifying therapy (DMT), just do something! I didn’t do any of these for the first 6 years, that was my biggest mistake. Remember, the goal is to stop or slow down this progressive disease.
Get all the help you need to work through your diagnosis, as no one can be prepared for a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Reach out to the MS community and others living with MS. It can be a very, very isolating disease, but the power of our community is incredible and can be very empowering.
We can always talk to our neurologists, but a lot of times they talk to us from a medical perspective. In the MS community, we can all lean on one-another, while sharing our experiences and issues with each other. If you ever feel alone, overwhelmed, lost, scared, or feel like no one is listening to you, we’ve all been there, and we can lean on each other for support. I have made some of the best friends I’ve ever had in the MS community because we all have a connection that others would never fathom or understand.
At my local VA, we have a Veterans with MS Support Group that meets virtually once a month. It has been a rewarding experience talking with other Veterans dealing with MS too. Just when you think you’re alone, you’re not, please remember that.
Another helpful resource that I have found beneficial is joining the “Veterans with MS” support group through the National MS Society. This group meets once a month virtually and has been very helpful for me to open up about my disease. I tried hiding it for many years, the only problem is, I can’t hide it anymore. For that reason, I started a blog (BlindsidedByMS.com) to document my journey and share the good, the bad, and the ugly that we face everyday living with this unforgivable disease.
My last thought is this, we’re all fighting the debilitating neurological condition together. Although it is isolating and defeating at times, we have to continue the fight because we weren’t given a choice. Please reach out, you’re not alone. You will find comfort, acknowledgement, and trust within your fellow MSer’s. Keep up the good fight, we must continue forging forward even though our futures are unpredictable!
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