When were you diagnosed with multiple sclerosis?
“I was officially diagnosed with MS in the spring of 2007, although it later became apparent that I had been misdiagnosed in early 2005. At the earlier date, my symptoms were of disorientation (brain fog) and profound fatigue. An MRI, however, was read as ‘inconclusive’. The early symptoms resolved, as happens with relapsing/remitting MS, but then in 2007, my feet and legs suddenly went numb, the brain fog returned, and a second MRI was found to be definitive for MS, while the first, from 2005, was re-read by a new radiologist as ‘classic for MS’.”
What was your first symptom?
“I was started on the first line treatment for MS, interferon, with Avonex, but after a year of being seriously ill from the weekly injections, I removed myself from the program and was given the choice of either starting Copaxone or being ‘fired’ from my doctor’s care. Copaxone injections did not make me ill, but they soon resulted in kidney stones, a condition that is pretty much worse than MS itself.”
Do you take any medication or use any natural therapies?
“After this, I quit all medications and moved to the island of Bali, where doctors have not so much as heard of MS.”
How are you feeling today?
“With a regimen of sunlight, prayer and the non-stressful lifestyle afforded by retirement, I have done rather well over the last six years, with only one significant relapse during that period of time. I do retain baseline deficits in cognitive disorder and numbness in the extremities.”
What advice can you offer others suffering from MS?
“I think that each individual has to find the way in dealing with MS that feels most efficacious on a personal level. Short of a cure, there is no ‘right’ course. Some will feel best with intensive attention to the disease, some will prefer giving it as little attention as possible, and some will fall in between. We do need to acknowledge the disease, to ‘embrace’ it, in a sense, for it has certainly embraced us and become a part of who we are.”
Good advice. Thank you, Richard.
Please share Richard’s story to teach others that multiple sclerosis does not look a specific way. You might interact with people silently suffering every day. You may also enjoy Vanessa, John, Maria and Yvonne’s Real MS Stories.