“No matter what, try your hardest to strengthen and maintain those bonds. This is what will keep you in the positive..That love and support is what will get you through the most difficult of times.”
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable and potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system, which interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. To better educate myself and others about MS during March, which is M.S. Awareness Month, I asked Itzy Medina to get up close and personal about life with MS, how the disease has changed her life and what gets her through the most difficult times.
Tell us about you!
“My name is Itzel but my friends call me Itzy. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. Spending time with my family and friends is what I enjoy the most. They bring me the most comfort and joy and they are the closest and most important support group I could ever ask for. Life can be challenging at times so they are really important to me as they bring me strength and support, and provide me with my greatest happiness! 🙂 Family and friends are everything.”
What’s a typical day in your life with MS?
“Before I was diagnosed I had symptoms that I remember going back about 10 years before my diagnosis, the main one being fatigue which is a major factor in MS. I was much younger at the time barely heading into my twenties and remember thinking how that extreme fatigue I felt seemed out of the ordinary for someone of my age. Being one of my only symptoms back then that I was experiencing, I went to several different doctors trying to figure out the underlying problem but no outcome was ever found. It wasn’t until I suffered my first severe MS attack in 2010 that I finally learned where my extreme fatigue issue had unfortunately manifested from. Since being diagnosed and having my first attack, which is typically a cluster of numerous and varying MS symptoms, most symptoms have mild down but some have stayed and lingered until this day and new ones have unfortunately manifested as well. Every day is different in the life of someone with MS so I try to handle each day as it comes. Positive outlook is always key.”
I learned to appreciate some of those little things in life that I was not able to see clearly before my diagnosis.
How did you first learn that you have MS? How has this changed your goals & dreams?
“My diagnosis 6 years ago was the hardest, most difficult, confusing time in my life. With no warning whatsoever one day I woke up to go to work as usual, but noticed my right toe was numb. As the day went on the numbness spread to the rest of my toes, then my foot, then my ankle, and before the end of my work day my entire right leg was completely numb. Later that evening that numbness spread to my other leg, up my torso and then to my right hand. I had no feeling in my legs which led me to be unable to walk. Unfortunately, I also lost partial vision in my left eye, along with other various symptoms that were also just as difficult to deal with. Everything just came at once. After numerous tests and MRI’s and Lumber Puncture procedures, I laid in my hospital bed not knowing what my diagnosis would be. The prognosis was Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I had no previous knowledge what this illness was. I soon would learn everything about it. But the hardest part to hear was definitely the NO FOUND CURE part of it. It was hard to take in. I thought and knew my life would now somehow change forever and it most definitely has. There is a positive to this though…knowing that every day is a gift is important and everyday should be lived to the fullest. I learned to appreciate some of those little things in life that I was not able to see clearly before my diagnosis. After months of my first attack I regained the feeling in my body and regained my vision as well, but I was left with the lingering affects of the attack which involved muscle weakness and strength. That’s something I work on everyday to overcome and make great strides in.”
How do others react when you tell them you have MS?
“If I don’t tell someone directly that I have MS they would never know. I look completely healthy and good on the outside, but the story of what my body is fighting inside is another. The two reactions I mostly get is from those who know what it is and immediately tell me to stay strong and those who like me when I was diagnosed have no idea what MS is so they ask and I gladly fill them in. Awareness and education of this disease is very important and I try to do my part in educating people about the different signs and symptoms. The sooner treatment is acquired for an individual the better and the more manageable this disease is, before permanent damage is too late.”
What do you want people to know about MS?
“What I would like people to know about Multiple Sclerosis is that even though there is no known cure for this disease, it is not a death sentence. Even though no two people that have MS are alike, this disease is very manageable so one can live an almost normal, average life once treatment is successfully started.”
What can people do to help? Is there hope for a cure?
“The National MS Society is the absolute best place to help in anything related to Multiple Sclerosis including information about disease, symptoms and diagnosis, treatments of MS, Resources and Support, Health and Wellness, Research News & Progress and how to get involved including how to donate and volunteer for fundraising events such as the “Walk MS” that is held in different cities across the U.S all throughout the year. I myself have participated and lead my own team, the “MS Fighters”, for the past 4 years. I hope to continue to do so until a cure is successfully found!”
Who has been your support & how have they been there for you?
“As I mentioned before, my family and friends are my best support. The bonds we have with our friends and family are linked to our happiness and overall well-being. They bring us joy during the good times and support during the challenging ones. When you have Multiple Sclerosis you need these relationships most of all so I am very lucky and grateful to be able to have this in my life.”
Do you have any words of advice or encouragement to share with others who are living with MS?
“Learning to cope with MS is challenging and can be a stressful experience, not only for yourself but your loved ones, but no matter what, try your hardest to strengthen and maintain those bonds. This is what will keep you in the positive..That love and support is what will get you through the most difficult of times.”
Lastly, what does the future hold for you?
“I’m not sure what the future holds for me and that can be scary, but it can also be hopeful at the same time. Comparing MS now to twenty years ago, we have advanced so much in medical research and treatments that has improved quality of life. Disability isn’t something we have to fight against much longer, which means that in just a few years more advanced treatments will come out and the quality of life will get better in time. I’m hopeful that a Cure will be found in the process. I will stay positive until then and I will not let this disease defeat me. I will FIGHT for a Cure. There is power in positive thinking!”
You can follow Itzy on her YouTube Channel:My Life Living with MS.