“Researching for myself and advocating” – by Emily L

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I was diagnosed in March of 2020 at the age of 19. I first noticed my symptoms when I was walking up the stairs and I tripped up on them out of the blue. As I continued to walk down the hallway I noticed I had a limp and couldn’t really feel my right foot. I thought this might have been due to me falling down the stairs a few days prior and went to go see my chiropractor to see if he could help with alignment in my spine and legs. A few days later I was at a basketball game for one of the kid’s I used to nanny for and as I was sitting there and then noticed my whole right side of my body felt like dead weight and numb. At this point I began to freak out a little and called my mom as I was headed out the door to drive home. Driving without being able to feel your foot is a weird feeling. My mom is a nurse so I knew if something was wrong she would be the one to get me the help I need to have this resolved. During this week my head began to feel very foggy. I couldn’t think straight and felt like I was slurring my words when I would talk. The day after the basketball game incident my mom and I went to the ER to find out what was causing me to feel this way. To this day, that was the worst I have ever felt. After waiting in the ER for 6 hours, I received a CT scan that revealed nothing and told me to schedule an appointment with a neurologist. This was on a Friday. Over that weekend, I progressively got worse, from the tip of my head to the bottom of my right foot was numb and heavy. I couldn’t write, walk, type, drive, say a sentence cohesively, I thought I was having a stroke. That following Monday we went back to the ER requesting an MRI. I have never had an MRI before and I had a lot of anxiety laying in the machine for 1.5 hours for a brain and spine MRI without contrast. After the MRI was done, I got admitted into the hospital and was given a dose of steroids. When the results came back from the MRI, it showed a lesion on the left side of my brain. The next morning, I had a repeat MRI, with contrast of my brain and then a spinal tap. The spinal tap knocked me down and out of the count for a week, which is how long I was in the hospital for because I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without feeling like I was going to faint from the headache. A few days after the spinal tap the results came in concluding that I had monoclonal antibodies in my spinal fluid. This result, the MRI, my symptoms, and other tests ruling out many other diseases gave me the diagnosis of MS. I was referred to an MS specialist where I was diagnosed with Tumefactive MS, now having RRMS. 

What has happened since being diagnosed…well a lot haha. I had an overwhelming sense of love and support from my family and friends and knew I wasn’t alone in all of this. I am on my third drug/treatment in a matter of 2 years, I have changed my diet and my lifestyle to reduce stress, therefore helping to reduce my body’s inflammation. I had flare up with 2 new lesions on my spine when my father passed away which led to the changes in my medications and lifestyle. MS has made me realize that there isn’t anything more important than taking care of myself first. I still have a hard time with this to this day, and my body lets me know when I need to take a step back and focus on myself. MS has made me a lot stronger mentally than I thought I was, and it has also made me a much more independent thinker. Researching for myself and advocating what’s best for me and my body. 

My advice for someone newly diagnosed is to take the time to let yourself feel and process all your emotions. It’s a lot to go through all at once and can make you feel very very small. Take it day by day and slowly start to unravel the google searches you’re bound to make. However, make sure you use trusted articles, books, journals, etc, because some of the stuff out there can really scare you into the deep end. Take note of your lifestyle and diet. Processed vs. real whole foods, clean products vs. toxin filled ones (beauty products, skin products, household products), what are your stressors and how often they appear in your life, how you handle stress and lastly your exercise routine. All of these elements can play a huge role in your MS journey.


Things I do to manage My MS

1. Staying hydrated! 
2. Some form of exercise, whether it be a training day, yoga, or even a nice walk. 
3. Take my Vitamin D
4. Eat lots of whole foods (fruits, veggies, grains) 
5. Say 2 things I am grateful for every day 

Favorite Books:

Not MS Related:
Wonder by R.J Palacio;
– Anything by NIcholas Sparks; 
The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom

MS Related:
Multiple Sclerosis Self-Help…A Patient’s View by Ed Lash; 
What’s Missing from Medicine by Saray Stancic

My diet: A well-balanced one including anti-inflammatory foods

Emily Lombardi

Instagram: @emilyvictoria_03