When MS Diagnosis Comes Early in Life

Katie St Lawrence was 22 years old when she was diagnosed with MS. In her latest MS & Me blog she shares her story.

My journey with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) started when I was 21 years old and I was diagnosis at the age of 22. The most common age to be diagnosed with MS is 20-40 years old but you never think it will happen to you. Even now I’m angry over how young I was. Doctors will tell you it’s a great thing to find out about your diagnosis and start treatment early! Yes, I am grateful but I am still bitter over how young I was.

MS has taken over all of my twenties. My weekend plans have been dictated by my medication and how I might be feeling. My body is like a pin cushion between medication injections and blood tests. But to give a positive spin to it, I’ve finally gotten over my fear of needles :). I have had to cancel plans last minute because I am not feeling well. Then I look on social media of friends going out and enjoying themselves. I have even lost friends through MS; they don’t understand that I have different things that I must take into consideration.  A night out to me might take me a lot longer to recover from or I just might not have the energy needed to keep up with them.

When I talk to other people about their MS stories and journey and I hear they received their diagnosed in their late twenties/early thirties, I can’t help but feel a pang of jealousy. As silly as it seems we are both facing the same battle with the same horrible disease. I just feel jealous sometimes because they enjoyed some of their twenties without the worry of this disease and having to care for it. ‘Silly’ as I said, I know.

There is no right age to be diagnosed. Any age is a shock after a devastating diagnosis... there are many times that I think about the questions…   What If I? Maybe I? 

What if I was diagnosed just a few years later in life would it have changed my life path in a major way? Maybe I would have travelled the world. As much as I try not to think about what could have been in life, it is hard at times. When MS is diagnosed early in life from that second the doctors say the words ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ everything in your life changes.

As much as I am grateful for the opportunities that having MS has given me and the amazing people I have met along the way. I still feel angry over things I have had to face, the illness itself and the countless symptoms I have to deal  with. The daily pain, endless doctor and hospital  appointments,  scans, MRI’s, medication, needles, blood tests and then on top of it all a battle with anxiety and depression. I can’t help but ask myself many times, often daily. What have I done to deserve this?

It can be scary at times not knowing when the next attack will be or what my future will look like, for me the most difficult part is thinking about what I will be like when I am much older. Sometimes I wish I was able to make plans without having to add the sentence I’ll have to see how I am that morning.

They say what’s meant for you in life won’t pass you and while I am a major believer in this, I wonder what the purpose of me having MS will affect the world? Maybe my purpose in life is to raise awareness of the disease and try to find a cure. But sometimes I can’t help wishing for just a few more years in my early twenties without having to deal with my early diagnosis of MS.