My Life with Multiple Sclerosis

Back in 2009, I was a pretty typical 25-year-old. I had nearly completed my Bachelor’s degree in history and like many Millennials, I was anxious to find my perfect career path. I had a full-time customer service job at the bank; but I felt like anyone could do my job, and I didn’t want to be just anyone. I wanted to stand out.

Then, on a very hot August day, the left side of my face went numb. “I must have had a stroke,” I joked to my friends. The numbness persisted through the rest of the week and I found myself in the emergency room of the Royal Victoria Hospital, where I took in the devastating verdict: relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, and its symptoms and severity vary from person to person.

Following my diagnosis I went on short-term disability for two months due to limb weakness, loss of balance and lack of coordination. Chronic fatigue and soreness often made it difficult to get out of bed. Aches and pains all mixed in with bone-tiredness made basic daily activities a struggle. Many of my symptoms were downright strange. I struggled to speak the word coffee — time and time again the word water came out instead. Once I staggered down the street looking drunk even though I was dead sober.

I was the same 25-year-old with the same unrelenting ambitions and anxieties as always; but my body was betraying me. My MS diagnosis had added an entirely new dimension to my nascent struggling career.

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Vanessa Byrd