What Battle has Chosen You?
WHAT IS MS?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable and chronic disease, affecting the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. An autoimmune disease, the immune system in those with MS appears to attack the central nervous system. The disease disrupts the flow of information within the brain, as well as between the brain and the body. Because MS is a disease of the nervous system, when I say that things are getting on my nerves- trust me, I mean it!
How do I look? How do I feel? That depends on the day.
MS is VISIBLE and INVISIBLE.
What you may see with Multiple Sclerosis is foot drop, difficulty walking, clumsiness, tremors and spasms. What you don’t see with Multiple Sclerosis is joint pain, fatigue, diminished vision, depression, muscle weakness and challenges with cognitive function.
In 2019, I joined an estimated 1 million people in the United States living thriving with MS. The onset of my symptoms surfaced around 2013 but I ignored them until I couldn’t anymore. Around 2015 I began expressing to friends that I just couldn’t remember things anymore. I couldn’t place faces that I should know, I unknowingly took the long way home from work and I struggled to learn new things. One of my friends brushed it off and said, “we’re all getting older – don’t worry it’s just age” By 2017, because symptoms began to progress, I visited my primary care doctor with complaints of feeling “off”. She gave me a memory test and referred me to a neurologist at the MS Center of Atlanta where I reside. My doctor immediately ruled out Alzheimer’s Disease, tested for Sjogren Syndrome, Lupus and Lyme’s disease- all were negative. Later I tested positive for John Cunningham (JC) Virus and an MRI showed a single lesion in the front of my brain and tiny specs of white… that was the beginning.
My neurologist followed me for years and I had regular MRIs to monitor that lesion and my quality of life.
In 2019, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The title wasn’t life changing – however what had been happening to my body over the years was. I found what was the most difficult was explaining and sometimes, trying to convince others that I wasn’t well and exactly what I was feeling. At times I felt ignored and isolated mostly because people don’t acknowledge what they don’t see. Seeing is believing? that’s not always necessarily true. It hurts- even when I don’t show it. Tasks are difficult although they should be easy and even when I’m doing my very best, often it’s just not enough.
ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF
I have a neurological condition that impacts my life but it doesn’t define me. My name is Rebecca Cooper Jackson and I have MS. The beautiful part is that I am blessed. Every day, I can get up and go to work and care for my family. I have a healthy support system and challenge myself with new goals that lead to new accomplishments. I love fashion, style and food! I also enjoy live music- all genres and most of all I enjoy having fun with friends and family. I’m an avid sorority girl and self-proclaimed self-help podcast junkie.
It no longer matters to me if people understand what I am going through or even what they can or cannot see. God sees me- he created me wonderfully in his image and I am proud of what I am and whose I am. I hope you are too!