About four years ago, I was at the beach with my family when I noticed my back was numb. I would run my hands up and down my sides and lower back and realized I could barely feel it. It wasn’t totally numb, but definitely dulled in sensation. I chalked it up to being in the sun too long, then to pulling a muscle, then to a pinched nerve, then after several days, I went to the hospital. At this point my back was still numb, and my hands were also tingling. I was admitted and kept for a week, where I had test after test, and vial after vial of blood taken while they tried to figure out what was wrong. The only thing they could find was a small lesion on my spine around my neck, and said that it was probably inflammation from a virus.
Of course, this never seemed completely believable to me, but I’m no doctor. After routine MRIs and follow-ups with my doctor for all these years, a scan finally showed something different — a new lesion on my lower spine and one on my brain. To my doctors (and me), this confirmed what we kind of already knew all along but couldn’t prove. I have Multiple Sclerosis.
MS is an autoimmune disease, so my immune system is attacking my nervous system. There is no cure, only medications that prevent flare-ups and symptoms. The typical demographic of someone with MS is a woman in her mid-twenties. Check and check.
When I got my diagnosis, I pretty much already knew what was going to happen. I had just had another MRI about a month before the appointment, and I just had a feeling it wasn’t going to be good news. I went alone, because I like it better that way, and got the news from my doctor. You know it’s bad news when they bring in two other people for back-up.
While I was sitting in the waiting room after this, waiting to have my blood taken for more tests, the first thing that came to mind was “We have to move home.”
Kyle and I have been missing home for so long, and if there was ever a reason we should move, it was this. After a few days and lots of talking, Kyle decided to send a proposal to his boss about our situation and present the idea for him to work from home. He is the Creative Director for the health and fitness magazine, Club Solutions, and his job is totally doable from any location. His boss so graciously agreed, and we will be moving back to West Virginia very soon. Kyle will keep his job, we will save money and I will be closer to my doctors for appointments.
On top of that, we’ll no longer have to miss birthday parties, football and baseball games, weddings, cookouts, bonfires or dinner dates. We can see our nephews more often, go to tailgates with my family, and save money for bigger things. Rather than traveling home every other weekend to spend 24 hours with our people, we can spend time with them and chill out on the weekends, and take trips to other places when we feel like it.
Kyle and I have lived away for years, and there are parts about experiencing new cities that is exciting and necessary for us. We needed this time away, but at the same time, we need our mountains, our loved ones, and our country roads. I think everything has worked out just as it was supposed to in the end.
I’m overwhelmed with so many emotions lately, but more than anything else, I feel incredibly grateful.
I’m grateful that we will have a place to live when we move.
I’m grateful that my doctors have been there to help me through this whole thing.
I’m grateful that we have people who love us enough to help us move wherever we want to go.
I’m grateful for a happy first year of marriage.
I’m grateful that even with MS, I am running a half-marathon in November.
I’m grateful that I have a husband who encourages me and keeps me smiling even when things are really scary.
I’m grateful for a God that holds me up through the hardest moments of life and gives me peace that it’s all going to work out.
I’m grateful for new chapters in life.
As of right now, I have no symptoms and feel fine. Of course something like this is scary, but I feel fine. I’m positive (or try to be) and I’m not going to stop my life because of this. If anything, this just makes me want to go harder at life, and do all the things I dream of doing. I’m trying to be as healthy as possible, doing lots of research and packing up my apartment. We’ll be back in the 304 before long, and even though I’ll be sad to leave the friends I’ve made here (and the bourbon), I’m so thrilled.
I’ve learned a lot by living away from home, but in the end, I’m just a mountain mama who needs her people.