Nellie Mugadi’s story about MS.
When I was in high school, I discovered something was not quite right. I woke up and prepared for class without any hitches. As I was dressing, I realised that I was battling to get a grip on the buttons on my blouse and struggling to fasten them. I thought I was having a nightmare. I walked to class and a friend stopped me to ask me if I was okay. I didn’t think anything was amiss. “Why are you asking? “You are walking like a drunkard,” she said in response. I simply ignored her and went to class. As I was trying to get a grip on my biro to write, I realised my hand was not cooperating. I went to the school nurse who didn’t know what was wrong with me. She called my dad and that’s when my trips to the hospital began.
The CT scan revealed nothing but my first MRI indicated that I had lesions at the back of my brain. The neurologist suspected it was MS but he wanted to treat anything but MS. I was treated for tuberculosis of the brain for two months instead of the prescribed six months because my body reacted terribly to the medication. I would throw up daily. I lost my appetite, had constipation and got rashes that left distinct black marks on my face. I was put on medication to dissolve blood clots in my veins – that didn’t work either. I was told to go for a lumbar puncture, a procedure used to diagnose disorders of the central nervous system. The first six trials failed. They were painful. They left me numb on both legs. Pins and needles, hallucinations, forgetfulness were some of the things I experienced.
I left school in form three and stayed at home for six years. I was on steroids which strengthened me but this came at a price – Osteoporosis. This is a condition that made my bones weak and fragile. Other doctors said I had acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a rare autoimmune disease. For six years, I was treated for ADEM but was still feeling unwell though I was stronger.
My days are characterized by fatigue, frequent falls, migraines, stress and constant pain especially during the cold season. I was also unable to dress without help. After a while, the numbing in my legs started to dissipate and I could feel my toes. I used to get painful jerking on my legs (waist down) when I was just about to sleep. Years later, I developed Bell’s palsy – my face would twitch uncontrollably then my mouth would move my left side. This could be controlled by taking medication.
Much as there is no cure for MS as yet, I believe in God’s healing power.
About the author
Nellie was diagnosed with MS when she was in high school. As a result of her illness, she stayed out of school for six years. Nellie got back to school and is currently a university student.