On Monday, March 6th, 2017 I was diagnosed with Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.
Yeah, I know; it’s a mouthful. To keep it simple, let’s just call it MS.
For those of you wondering what those two letters represent, here is the condensed version (via nationalmssociety.org):
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling immune-mediated disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
You can check out the video below for a more detailed overview.
So, despite my fear of needles, I began taking a prescription testosterone injection for the fatigue. As for the tingly eyes, I began to read earlier in the day instead of late at night, and to my surprise, it helped.
But band-aids only last so long.
Slowly over the past two years the tingly eyes, physical fatigue and mental strain returned, only this time they invited their friend depression to come along. But I soldiered onward, having good days and bad, convinced that this was just how things would always be.
The turning point came when I awoke one morning this past December with the vision in my right eye grainy, white and light-sensitive. It took a few days for me to realize that this wasn’t something that would go away on it’s own. Desiring to find answers and get help, my wife and I visited an optometrist (who shall remain unnamed). After one of the strangest eye exams of my life, the guy literally told me I was imagining my symptoms and there was nothing wrong with me. I don’t think I have ever been more insulted! Within a week we had chased down a second opinion from a much more concerned ophthalmologist. After a series of in-office tests that didn’t offer any answers, he sent me for an MRI. Within two hours of the procedure the ophthalmologist called me with the results.
“Mr. Caudill,” he said. “Your MRI revealed lesions in your brain consistent with Multiple Sclerosis. I recommend you see a neurologist.”
It was during all of this answer chasing and test taking that I began to experience intermittent times of light headedness along with the strange feeling that my right leg was a bit too heavy and a fuzz too slow. So, hearing those words shook me to the core. We began researching more and realized a lot of the things we brushed off could be connected. And now, having been clinically diagnosed, the odd feelings and symptoms I have experienced over the past five years finally have an explanation. We may have only just begun to understand this, but it’s a battle I have been fighting for years already without knowing it.
So, why make this personal news public? Three reasons:
First, God has blessed us with an amazing network of family and friends whom we love and respect dearly. Instead of attempting to inform each person individually (and inevitably leaving someone out), I thought this would be the easiest way to let everyone know what is going on in my world so they can pray for me and my family. We have many choices ahead of us that will require wisdom. And I’m sure we will need encouragement and an understanding shoulder along the way.
Second, I want to encourage you to know yourself. If you feel something is wrong, get help. Get second opinions. Be persistent. Don’t let anyone underrate your experiences and sweep you under a rug. It just might eliminate years of silent suffering.
Third, March is national MS Awareness Month. My best friend has MS, and Candace has several extended family members who have lived and died with it. Still, we knew relatively nothing about the condition, it’s treatments and the exciting developments being made. And that lack of knowledge is sad. I don’t want to persist in ignorance any longer.
I’m not sorry for the life God has given me; please don’t be sorry for me either.
No amount of apologetic sympathy is going to lighten my journey, but having others to learn alongside me will. Want to help and encourage me? Educating yourself and others about MS will last longer and mean more than an “I’m sorry” ever would.
“Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.” -J.R.R. Tolkien