Multiple Sclerosis and I have a bit of a history. It’s not something I talk about often because thankfully, my experience was a scare and it just feels like something I prefer not to remember but it definitely shaped the person I am today. With the Race to Erase MS event coming up, I thought it might be time to share the story, which is also how I became interested in Social Good to begin with.
Let me start from the beginning and to do that, we have to go back to high school for a bit. It was my senior year at Edward R. Murrow high school in Brooklyn and I was enjoying my english classes as always. I remember looking forward to reading Hamlet and studying it in depth. I finally got the teacher I had been hearing so much about and he really had a gift for turning anything we studied into an event.
As luck would have it, I started having trouble with my eyesight. I wore glasses to read but my eyes seemed to be getting worse. I told my parents and they scheduled an appointment for me to see the optometrist. Seemed simple enough, I just needed a stronger or different prescription.
Over the next few days, my eyesight got progressively worse and I mentioned that I was having trouble seeing the blackboard and then I was having trouble seeing my own reflection in the mirror. This terrified my parents so we headed to the optometrist that afternoon. By the time I got to the doctor’s, I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye. I remember him asking me to cover my left eye and tell him what line I could see. I said “none” and he asked “Do you see the light in the box on the wall where the letters are?” I responded, “I can’t even see the wall.”
My father and the doctor left for a few minutes where I later found out that the doctor was telling my father that he suggest we head to the hospital because he had never seen anyone lose their sight so quickly and the prognosis could be a brain tumor or something else that made the doctor uncomfortable sending us home without a cat-scan.
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The decision was made to head to our family ophthalmologist, who may be able to better diagnose me or at least put us in the right direction. The doctor my grandparents and parents had always gone to had just retired but a new doctor had taken over his practice. I’m not sure if any of us had met her yet but that day, I was introduced to Dr Louise Tubio-Cid and I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.
She examined me for what seemed like forever, she was very patient and concerned. Her diagnosis was the same as the optometrist. She couldn’t send me home without more tests that only a hospital could conduct. She was afraid it could be a tumor, or something equally as threatening. She called over to the hospital to have them fit me in immediately.
Well, immediately wasn’t so immediate (not the doctor’s fault) but I finally got my cat-scan. More dreaded news. There were shaded areas on the scan, which meant brain tumors for sure. I have no idea how much time went by but I was being admitted and then we got the news that the next few people who received scans after me, had the same exact results. There was something wrong with the machine so we needed to retake the test.
After the second test, it was determined I did not, in fact, have brain tumors. The new diagnosis was the onset of some form of Multiple Sclerosis. After a battery of neurological tests, I was totally exhausted and I’m not going to lie, downright scared. Now it was about midnight and Dr Tubio-Cid had been calling to check on me and was now standing in front of us at the hospital. She was trying to convince my parents to let me stay overnight but I felt fine and they were more comfortable if I came home so we had to sign me out. I was to go directly to Dr Tubio-Cid’s office for more tests the next day.
That night, I researched MS and heard my parents talking about their own fears. I remember hearing things about being in a wheelchair, not being able to use the right side of my body if it progressed, and more things that were just too much. At 17 years old, I just wanted to finish studying Hamlet and graduate. I wanted to enjoy my senior year and go back to hanging out with my friends. My grandmother asked my parents to bring me over to her house. She had this idea that I would look different or that she would see something different and she needed to see me for herself. I looked the same, just felt exhausted. It was everyone and everything else that looked different to me out of one eye.
I don’t remember how long I actually had to miss school, how long I had to go to Dr. Tubio-Cids office, or how many visits in total I do know that my father had just started a new job and our medical coverage hadn’t kicked in. I know that the doctor didn’t charge for every visit and I know that even with that, it was a very expensive experience. The kindness Dr Tubio-Cid showed is definitely one of those things that changes you and becomes a part of you. You know you have to find a way to pay that type of gesture forward.
I do know that I spent lots of time in that office while she would run tests and there would be no change. Then, one day I was able to make out the box around the chart on the wall! I could see SOMETHING! From that day on, my vision improved slowly, until one day it was back to normal. There was talk that I wouldn’t get my peripheral vision back at all or it may be compromised but, eventually, that came back too.
This is why Social Good has been so important to me. I know I had angels rallying for me and I know that each of us can be an angel to others. I have seen social media used to help raise money for so many amazing causes as well as awareness. I know I was given a pass and I would love to see a day where MS is a non issue, a diagnosis that has a cure. I would love to see everyone get a pass.
When I found out we would be able to attend the Race to Erase MS gala, I jumped at the chance. This is something personal to me. The experience I went through changed me in many ways and had a part in shaping who I am today. I know that together, we can do just about anything.
I encourage you to follow along on Friday April 24th as I bring you information, photos, and coverage from the event where there are a whole host of celebrities that will be attending and speaking. There will also be performances by Ne-Yo and Rita Ora. The gala will be honoring fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger as well. Saturday, April 25th we will be attending a conference with more information. I’m sure all of us can recall a time when we felt we had someone looking out for us, let’s be that for others.
You can find out more about how you can help and the gala here: EraseMS.org You can find out how you can get one of these classy, great looking watches designed by the talented Nancy Davis here: Evine.com Proceeds go to Erase MS. Be sure to follow @RacetoEraseMS on Twitter and like them on Facebook.
Let me know what causes are near and dear to your heart in the comments and if you are attending the gala on Friday, let me know!
I look forward to tweeting with all of you this weekend!