My Life Was All Mapped Out Until Multiple Sclerosis Moved In


I see the blessing.

Hello, my name is Janice Ward and this is my MS story. I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 after a year-long process of testing and retesting. I remember the day that MS (Multiple Sclerosis) moved into my life so clearly because it came in with such a bizarre barrage of symptoms that it even stumped the ER Doctors.

I worked a very demanding job as a field service computer engineer in the State of Arizona, which I loved, by the way. I came home from work completely stressed out on a Friday with an intensely pounding headache so I medicated myself and spent the entire weekend in bed. I was super tired and the headache was unrelenting.

On Sunday evening, I got out of bed to prepare for work Monday morning, I took a hot shower and washed my hair. The pounding headache had eased up and I was feeling a lot better. I continued to style my hair and I noticed that there was quite a bit of steam left on the mirror, so I wiped it off to continue my nightly routine. I noticed that I couldn’t see out of my right eye. I was looking through my left eye and then I noticed that the right side of my face began to droop like someone was pulling my face down on one side!

The right side of my body dropped downward and I started to lose my balance. I had to catch myself from falling because my balance was completely off. I hurried to the emergency room looking like I just had a stroke. The ER doctors rushed me to radiology for a CT scan, but the scan came back normal. The doctors were so confused because my right eye didn’t react to light or any other stimulation. I was even told the blindness would probably be permanent. Everything about me said that I was a stroke victim. After a battery of tests in the ER, I was told that the face droop was from Bell’s palsy. The right-side weakness was still a mystery.

I left the ER with so many questions and so many fears.

The next morning, I reported to my primary care doctor and the rigorous testing began. I remember keeping a towel up to the right side of my mouth because of the constant drool from my mouth due to Bell’s palsy. I also had to lubricate my right eye and tape it shut because it just wouldn’t close due to Bell’s palsy.

Over the next couple of months, I had to endure multiple tests including blood work, various nerve tests, MRI, spinal taps, and consultations with an eye specialist, a neurologist, and a psychologist. The MRI and spinal tap confirmed MS with Optic neuritis. I was hospitalized and given Solu-medrol IV steroids, after a few weeks my vision slowly came back to a corrected 20/20.

I went to physical therapy for my face and right-side weakness, it helped me with my self-esteem actively working on myself with a physical, aquatic, and occupational therapist. I truly believe every person with Multiple Sclerosis needs a team approach in their life!

I had my life all mapped out until MS moved in.

Devastation doesn’t even begin to describe my MS diagnosis. I made the mistake of going to my neurologist alone for my test results. I remember the doctor said, “I got your test results back and you definitely have Multiple Sclerosis.” I didn’t hear everything else he said, I mean, I saw his mouth moving but I couldn’t comprehend anything he said to me after giving my test results. I was in complete shock! Fortunately, I had an excellent doctor who wrote down the pertinent information for me. To this day, I truly don’t remember my drive home. I had my life all mapped out until MS moved in. My cool computer engineering position came with excellent pay and benefits including a company car, cell phone, laptop, and launch out to my service calls from home. I truly enjoyed the work I did albeit came along with a high level of stress.

Well right before my eyes it all faded away. Due to the severity of the onset of my MS I was unfortunately forced out after being on short-term disability and then on to long-term disability which made me apply for SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance. And just like that, I’m out of the workforce. You see this was not the way my life was supposed to be. MS was unrelenting at the beginning of my diagnosis: I was blind in one eye, I was unable to walk without assistance, I had spine pain, and I also had crushing depression and extreme fatigue. I just wanted to give up. I couldn’t accept my condition and asked, “Why was this happening to me?” I thought my life was over and that I was destined for a life of dependence. As a single mother to a teenage son. I cried constantly because I honestly felt like a complete failure. The uncertainty of my and my son’s future kept me in a constant state of depression.

One day a nurse from the DMT that I was prescribed to came to my home for a scheduled visit to show me how to inject my new medication. She saw how despondent I had become and she offered me some sage advice that I still hold on to today.

“You might have MS, but don’t let MS have you!” “You must change your perspective and look for the good in your life and embrace that” “On your good days find something good to do” were the things she said.

Looking back on it all now I can honestly say that my Faith in GOD kept me going!

I learned through time to see the blessing that I’ve come to know being diagnosed with MS. My teenage son is now 32 and doing very well in life and I’m so grateful.

I’m fully retired and free to do the good things that matter to me. One of them is helping victims of family and domestic violence.

Janice Ward