Immediately prior to when I was diagnosed (late 1995), I remember feeling a slight loss of sensation in my right shoulder and arm. "I also 'suffered' a bout or two of double vision, the result of my right eye becoming 'lazy' when I tried to look to the right without turning my head.
Those two symptoms led to an MRI scan and a lumbar puncture, which in turn led to my diagnosis of MS, specifically Relapsing/Remitting MS.(RRMS).
The diagnosis came as a complete shock to me and to everyone around me, family and friends. Truth be told, I didn't even fully comprehend what MS was so when the diagnosing doctor said those three immortal words, "You. Have. MS.", I, as a 24-year old just out of college, shook my head and affected a solemn look. I felt that that was what I was *supposed* to do! :)
I can even remember going into Eason's in town once I got out of hospital and buying three books, the only books I could find on MS. I promptly went home and threw the books under my bed, effectively creating my own little "Pandora's Box" in my room.
After my diagnosis, I entered what is called "remission", a time where one's MS symptoms either disappear completely or the symptoms go but some residual 'damage' is left from the most recent "relapse".
I also entered what's called a "denial phase". I think any psychologist would say that that was perfectly normal.
I didn't suffer my next relapse until two years later. That's two full years of forgetting that I even had MS! I remember going on holiday with a couple of old schoolmates to Antwerp in Autumn 1998 and we did quite a bit of walking, which is fine and normal. Only thing is, as the holiday went on, something weird seemed to be happening with my walk.
I remember thinking, 'What the hell is with my legs?' and then also immediately remembering, 'Oh yeah, I have MS.'
In the succeeding weeks and months, I developed a 'noticeable' limp in my right leg, albeit a very manageable limp.
That was then, this is now.
Fast-forward twenty-three years and I have pretty much the same symptoms today as I had twenty-three years ago. The difference is now, they're considerably more pronounced. I also have a few new symptoms including Trigeminal Neuralgia and Cluster Headaches. These are both examples of extreme facial pain and, like with everything else MS-related in my life, they occur for me on the right side.
My first experience of each of these extreme facial pains was terrifying.
But as time has gone on, I know when trigeminal neuralgia or especially cluster headaches occur, I contact particular medical professionals (chemist, GP, neurologist) once a flare (or flare-up, as some people call them) starts.
So, the difference between me back when I was diagnosed 25 years ago and me now is negative physically. But I like to think I've fought this MS as best I can all the way and though I'm left scarred (in my Central Nervous System of course!), I'm also very well equipped with the vital knowledge that helps keep me going