When I got outside, I called my best friend, Lauren, and we met for a manicure. Some people talk to God when things like this happen; I talk to my late father. Without him by my side, I had to figure it all out on my own. I did see one guy casually for a little bit, but when a friend posted something about MS on my Facebook page, he messaged me: "What's this about? Even though my body hasn't changed in any lasting ways—at least not yet, and hopefully not ever—I definitely have.
I have the most common kind of MS, called relapsing-remitting. I went to the ER and stayed in the hospital for three days getting intravenous steroids, and then it was over. Not long after, I was scheduled to start MS treatment—which involved a half-inch-long needle I had to inject myself with every other day. A giddy nurse wearing bad perfume showed up at my apartment to show me how to inject my belly. She went on and on about how easy it was and how I'd get used to it, and she wouldn't leave until I showed her I could do it myself. When I find myself getting really worked up, I take a deeper breath than I used to.
It was a few weeks before I could get an appointment, and while I waited, my pain, like a ghost, started moving around and up my body to my arms. "Absolutely not," he said, and then he hugged and kissed me and held me all night, just as he has every night since. Last fall, I switched to a new FDA-approved pill—no more shots!
When I told the neurologist about my traveling numbness, he said, in the most matter-of-fact voice you can imagine: "Maybe it's a pinched nerve, but best-case scenario, you have Lyme disease or multiple sclerosis (MS). My sister and I talk often, but she's busy raising three kids in Chicago. Rather than try to explain, I brought him the speech I'd written for another MS fund-raiser, telling my story. And then I watched the tears start streaming down his face. I have a new doctor, too; one who encourages me to exercise (it helps stave off symptoms! I see him every three months for progress tests, where I do things like touch my nose and speed-walk from point A to point B. That's probably the only time, when I'm in that claustrophobic tube, when I still think, Why me?
It comes with "attacks," where suddenly you go numb, your vision gets blurry or you lose your balance for a while, and then it just goes away for months or even years. When I was little, my dad used to tell us bedtime stories about his childhood in Tanzania.
Worst case, Lou Gehrig's disease or a brain tumor." I felt as if I couldn't breathe, like the air had been sucked out of the room. Kind of ironic: My body had gone physically numb, and now all I wanted was for my feelings to follow. We were like two little girls, hoping her mom would know how to make it better. And my father, who was my role model, died when I was 28. In fact, that's all I think for the 40-minute duration.
All I wanted was to escape, so after he rattled off the tests I'd need for a diagnosis, I just stood up and left. Self.com: 6 Moves To Resize Your Butt and Thighs I was on my way to work one November morning when I got the call. "Come in to discuss treatment." I hung up without asking a single question. I went straight to Starbucks, where I called Lauren and told her to meet me. He would've been the first one I called; he would have known just what to say. But when the test ends, I go back to my life, where I feel totally normal.