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Life After the Military: One Woman's Journey After an MS Diagnosis

As a member of the U.S. military, Tiffany was trained to face her fears and to deal with adversity head-on. The most challenging experience of Tiffany’s life to that point, her military training not only taught Tiffany to do these things, but also created a second family that Tiffany thrived as a member of.

When Tiffany began to experience double vision and weakness in her legs, she thought there was a chance she was just pushing herself too hard in training, and that she needed to rest for a day or two. Tiffany wasn’t one to leave things to chance though, so she sought medical attention. “I started by going to see the military doctor, but was quickly referred to a physical therapist and then a neurologist,” Tiffany recalled. “I suddenly realized that more rest wasn’t going to get me back into my training to be a combat medic.”

On December 13, 2013, Tiffany was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), the most common form of MS, which is a chronic condition that impacts more than 2.3 million people worldwide. As her neurologist explained the disease, Tiffany did her own research, and realized that the military career that was her dream was no longer a reality because of the unpredictable nature of the disease.

“The military was going to be my career, but it ended before it ever really had a chance to begin. I retired from the military at the age of 23,” shared Tiffany. “I couldn’t forget what I learned, though. Because of my time in the military I was able to face my fear of what living with this chronic illness could be like, and to deal with the newfound adversity in my life, with courage and determination to find a path forward.”

After retiring, Tiffany returned to her hometown, and with her family by her side, she began to explore what it meant to live with relapsing MS. While it was initially a challenge to reimagine her life outside of the military, and to accept some of the limitations and changes that came with living with relapsing MS, Tiffany realized that she wasn’t defined by either of those labels. Determined to approach life with the same positive attitude that led her to the military and through training, Tiffany decided her first step needed to be finding a new doctor who understood her as a person as well as her relapsing MS. After finding a new neurologist and discussing treatment options, Tiffany began taking Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate), a pill that helps to reduce relapses and slows (or delays) some physical disability progression associated with the disease.

She also found a new niche, and is now a police officer in her hometown.

“Having relapsing MS and being in law enforcement can be a challenge – I never know what the next day is going to bring – but I’m always honest with my colleagues about how I feel,” said Tiffany. “I now have a third family and I’m incredibly grateful for their support. If I need to take desk duty, I take it, and everyone understands. My health and my colleagues’ safety is always a priority.”

Tiffany’s life and career didn’t turn out exactly how she planned. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve her community, and credits the support of her family, friends and colleagues for her positive outlook.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by NEWS-JOURNAL
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length
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