Annie was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in the summer of 2020. The diagnosis came shortly before she found out she was pregnant with her first child. In this blog she talks about her diagnosis and how she coped during pregnancy.
My name is Annie, I’m 30 years old and on Thursday 18 June 2020 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since being diagnosed, I’ve continued to work full time (at home because of Covid-19), myself and my partner sold our first home and bought our second home, I’ve completed and passed my Master’s degree and fallen pregnant with my first baby. MS should never hold you back from what you want to do in life.
For years I had been back and forth to the doctors with complaints of being tired and having sore muscles, I basically felt like an old lady. I had lots of tests and after years of issues, I was told I had chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), however after doing research this never felt like it was the correct diagnosis for me. I just learnt to live with ‘crashes’ and being tired after an event or a stressful day.
Fast forward to the first lockdown in the UK on the 21 May 2020, I went for a walk and a fly flew into my eye. My vision in my left eye became blurry and poor, so after a few days my mum convinced me to call the doctor. They managed to get me an emergency appointment with the opticians. After two appointments, the optician was really confused and had no answers, as there was no debris in the eye and no scratches, but my vision was very poor. He wanted to get to the bottom of it and decided that I should go to the hospital. He booked me into the eye hospital at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.
The fly had absolutely nothing to do with the diagnosis, but I am so thankful for that fly!
I went to the hospital and had a range of tests for my eye and discussed previous issues I’d had, such as the tiredness and a period of time where I was diagnosed with labyrinthitis. I was told I had optic neuritis and it was then that the idea of MS was first discussed. Things then progressed very quickly and I had more tests over the next few days and finally an MRI scan on my brain, where they discovered some white spots. The consultant called me the day after my MRI and informed me that I had relapsing remitting MS. The fly had absolutely nothing to do with the diagnosis, but I am so thankful for that fly! It ensured my attention was on my eye and I couldn’t ignore the change in vision and that meant that I got to see the optician as an emergency.
I am a very practical person, so rather than crying and being upset, I spent the next few days sorting things out, contacting my life insurance, car insurance and informing the DVLA.
Shortly after my diagnosis I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, which was incredible news.
Shortly after my diagnosis I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, which was incredible news. I spoke with my neurologist and I decided to not start any treatment until after the baby arrives, instead I would speak to the MS team just before the baby is due to discuss my options. I am classed as a ‘high risk’ pregnancy, so the John Radcliffe Oxford hospital has assigned me their specialist team called ‘Silver Star’. Due to Covid-19, I’ve had video calls, rather than face to face meetings to discuss any concerns and issues. However I have had all of my regular midwife appointments.
Fortunately, pregnancy has been great for my MS, early on I had an issue with my jaw and pins and needles in my foot for a while, but other than that I’ve had no symptoms. Of course, I’m tired, as all pregnant women are, but the aches and pains in my muscles have disappeared. I take 4000IDU of vitamin D and a pregnancy vitamin each day. I plan to have a water birth in the midwife led part of the hospital, with hypnobirthing techniques and gas and air as my main sources of pain relief. I also plan to breastfeed, which the Silver Star team, my neurologist and my midwife fully support. I've been advised that after the birth symptoms of MS can return and are sometimes worse than before whilst the hormones change, but again this is something I’ll need to deal with at the time.
The diagnosis was a huge shock, for myself, my partner, my family and friends and I cried the day I found out. However, I soon changed from feeling sad, because I was so happy to finally know what was going on, it meant I could look at medication options, I could research and understand the diagnosis and nothing about me changed, I am still me, I just have MS now.
I hope to one day climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for a charity which supports those with MS. I have an Instagram page where you can follow my journey, @ME.AND.MS.
"Transparency is key to allowing us as a family to talk openly about MS"
17 Jun 2021 - 00:00
Father of daughters, Dan talks about life with MS and how transparency has been key when talking to his children about the condition.
An MS Carers Week retrospective
9 Jun 2021 - 00:00
In this blog, Martin discusses the importance of raising awareness of caring and the contributions that carers make to the MS community.
Our approach to MS and caring
9 Jun 2021 - 00:00
Adam, who was diagnosed with MS eight years ago, and his wife, Sharon, share their MS caring journey as well as some tips for people in a similar position.