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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
An ode to National MS Awareness Month
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Going home!
Cynthia Grau
My doctor had just told me I had two more infusions then I got to go home. I was ready!
By Cynthia Grau
March 5, 2013 11:02 a.m.

Day 2
Cynthia Grau
The side effects of the meds hadn't hit quite yet, so I was still pretty calm when this picture was taken Saturday.
I haven't written a blog in quite some time, and I think today is the day to do it.

National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month rang in a little early for me this year. I had my first major relapse since my diagnosis in July of 2009 and got to stay in the wonderful Gibson Area Hospital, beginning March 1.

I'm one of the "lucky" MS patients, because you look at me and think, "There's no way she's sick." It makes me lucky, yet puts me at a major disadvantage because my symptoms aren't as outward as most people's are and most don't believe me when I'm suffering, because they can't see it physically.

When I was first diagnosed, I had lost the use of my right leg and had such severe pain in my lower back I couldn't even walk. Not two days later, I went blind in my right eye. Being paranoid like I am, I went to the doctor, thinking I had a stroke. After just a few days, I was given a contrasting MRI and it showed between 10 and 12 lesions on my brain. Later MRIs showed three on my spinal cord.

Most of my problems involve speech, thought processes and my eyesight. I'm unsteady on my feet some of the time, but typically I get around just fine.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up Wednesday morning and my eyes wouldn't focus at all. It was like I was viewing the world through a kaleidoscope. I made it to work, did my best, but left two hours later, thanking the Lord I made it home in one piece.

I immediately went to see my eye doctor, who confirmed it was optic neuritis, which is what caused me to go blind nearly four years ago, only this time, it was causing the muscles behind my eye to become paralyzed, so they wouldn't move together or focus.

He said my eyesight would be back to normal in a few days to a few weeks, but I don't have that kind of time. Not only am I a single mother to a beautiful little five year old, but I obviously work full time at a job I adore. I couldn't be uncertain as to when I could function normally again, so Friday afternoon, I went to see my family doctor and without any hesitation, he admitted me to the hospital for 12 intense rounds of high dosage IV steroids, which has been proven to significantly shorten MS relapses.

My eyesight started getting better Saturday afternoon. I wasn't so dizzy or disoriented, but I still felt horrible. I was weak, couldn't sleep, wanted to eat all the time, my whole body was sore, and I just wanted to be home with my daughter. The drugs cause incredible mood swings, so I was anywhere from crying uncontrollably to wanting to cuss every person out that passed me by. My stomach hurts, my chest hurts, and I'm so weak I can barely walk.

I have a patchwork of beautiful blues, greens and purples up and down both of my arms and my face is beet red from the medications, but I'm back at work today, hoping I can make it through the day. I've taken a few doses of my multiple medications and I'm hoping they don't bother me much. They just made me incredibly tired last night, so at least I could cuddle up on the couch with my daughter that I hadn't seen in five days, and she watched movies while I slept.

MS is a bear. No matter if the person is in a wheelchair and can't talk, or they're like me, perfectly "normal" besides the random vertigo spells, not being able to remember people's names or randomly going blind for a week, MS takes its toll on everyone around you.

I just want to thank my family for helping me through this, with giving me rides to the hospital and doctor appointments and taking care of my daughter, to my coworkers for holding down the fort for the four days I was gone, and for my boyfriend, Dave, for playing nurse when be brought me home from the hospital yesterday. I also want to thank all my friends and church family for keeping my spirits up with Facebook messages and texts and calls while I was strapped to the hospital bed. I'm also going to apologize for the next few weeks as I come down off of all these horrendous drugs. If I cry a lot, get frustrated or just don't say anything, please don't hold it against me.

Mostly, find a friend with MS and give them a big hug and tell them you love them. There are a lot of us out there…more than you know…and we all have to stick together through everything, because no matter what, we all have our crosses to bear and we need to support each other every day.

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