MS AND MASTERS
Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Earlier this year, as I looked down the barrel of a ‘yet-to-be-determined-diagnosis’, I was tormented by questions as my life was to change, quite literally, overnight. “Will this be my last Mother’s Day… am I enjoying the last days of peace and ‘health’ as I know it… are my husband and three boys going to lose their wife and Mum or have to endure a sick one for months/years to come… how am I going to cope with sickness? Disability? Death?… am I to be one of “those people” now that others look at and are thankful it’s not happening to them?”
I went to sleep as a ‘normal’, healthy, relatively (!) fit 37yo on a Tuesday night in early May and woke the next morning with pins and needles down my left leg. Assuming it was a pinched nerve from basketball as I had commenced more training/game playing in preparation for Masters in October, wasn’t concerned in the slightest. The next morning the pins and needles had moved to my left arm, shoulder and side of my face, however. The next day asymmetric (double) vision and dizziness, the next a completely numb right leg and now I could no longer walk properly let alone run and play basketball (didn’t stop me trying! My teammates are very kind, gracious women… they didn’t laugh ‘on the outside’ once!!). Horrendous nerve pain plagued me every night, all night; just having water from the shower on my skin was excruciating, crushing chest pain, stabbing lower stomach pain, temple pressure, loss of taste, hot and itchy skin that isn’t relieved by cold or scratching because it’s literally (!) “all in my head! The symptoms kept coming and were as relentless and random as they were intense. I was exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally - terrified of being in my own body and dreading what it was going to throw at me next. Numerous blood tests came back normal, CT scans of neck and spine came back normal. I was desperate to know an answer and equally desperate not to. Brain and spine MRIs and a lumbar puncture eventually revealed, however, that I had multiple lesions on my brain and spine, and I was told ever so gently but certainly by my lovely neurologist, that she was sorry but I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
First thought: “I should’ve read more books in the MS read-a-thons at school” (actually that was my husband’s), mine was a rather strong expletive!
Second thought: “I CAN’T NOT PLAY MASTERS”. In fact, this was the first thing I said to my neurologist after she confirmed the diagnosis – “I absolutely love basketball and I am playing Masters in October… I have to be able to do that”!
With less than a fortnight to the Australian Masters Games, I am so happy to be more than well enough to play basketball with ‘my girls’ in our home state! There’s so much for me to be thankful for and, as a Christian, I attribute it all to God. I know He’s been with me every step of this journey and has looked after me in giving me exactly what I need, even when I haven’t known what I need and haven’t even asked! My early diagnosis, my quick and easy access to effective treatment, skilful doctors, close hospitals, drugs with no crazy side effects! My family, my friends, my work and last, but VERY much not least, my Masters team (I love and appreciate each and every one of them SO hugely and can’t thank them enough for being there for me this year!). I am realising more and more just how crucial this Masters adventure has been in me getting through these past challenging months. Its given me a second ‘family’, physical exercise, mental distraction, a goal to work towards and be motivated by, and lots and LOTS of fun times and laughter and chats and support. So yes, life sometimes throws us a curve ball but I am so grateful to have on this occasion been able to slam dunk the sucker!