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Chandra sitting on a bench outside in the afternoon sun

From MS diagnosis to acceptance

Chandra Ruegg

I got my diagnosis of MS in April 2015. I remember the day quite vividly. It was bright, sunny and typically spring like…

The day of the diagnosis

I felt pretty confident nothing was wrong but, weirdly, I did notice the date happened to be the thirteenth of the month. I had a flicker of a moment thinking: is this a bad omen? I'm not particularly superstitious but the thought did cross my mind.
My best friend accompanied me to the hospital to get my results, following the MRI I’d had a few months before. Sat in the waiting room we laughed and joked. We decided we would definitely enjoy a bottle of wine afterwards, when I could finally put the past few months of waiting behind me.

Early symptoms – numbness and foot drop

I had displayed my first symptoms seven years previously, which was clearly my first relapse. It came at a slightly stressful time in my life, so I put it down to my body not coping with the difficulties I was going through.  

I carried on with life and put the numbness in my right hand, and arm, down to carpal tunnel syndrome from my desk job. I had also had numbness in my legs but only for about two weeks then all was fine again, so carpal tunnel was a viable explanation.

About five years later I fell whilst jogging. I got back up to complete the route and realised my leg felt heavy and I couldn’t lift it. Early signs of my now prominent MS foot drop. Of course I didn’t link the two. I assumed the leg was a sports injury which would eventually heal itself. I never looked further into it than a bit of physio and presumed all would be well again.

The journey to acceptance

The point where I was eventually sent to see a neurologist was when I had my second relapse at the end of 2014. I lost the sensation of taste in the right side of my mouth and I had dizzy spells. Again, this lasted for close to two weeks. An MRI was had in January 2015 and the diagnosis came three months later. At the time it felt like the end of my world.

My immediate thoughts when that bombshell was dropped were, will I ever have kids? What about my job? Will I ever meet anyone who wants to take that on? Just instant doom and gloom. Snippets of what I remember the neurologist saying were "progressive, incurable disease" and "disability".

I have often said to people that the immediate repercussions of the diagnosis felt like dealing with grief.  I grieved for the life I had before I was made aware of my condition.

It’s now five years since I began my MS journey (and it is a journey, an ever evolving one). I have come to a point where I am able to accept my MS. But I want to go further than just acceptance – I want to own it.