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Friday

 

I was fit, 24 - and diagnosed with MS: Woman reveals pain of fighting progressive chronic disease that could eventually shut down all her muscles
































Megan Tyler had no reason to suspect anything was wrong.

The 26-year-old from Canada did CrossFit and yoga seven days a week. She also worked in health and fitness PR, so she knew how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

But two years ago, her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological condition that leads to MS - a disease with the potential to permanently disable her.

Now, as she navigates the waters of her disability, she's trying to live her life to the fullest before her muscles shut down.

Megan's official diagnosis is transverse myelitis, a precursor to MS.

'My life has just been completely turned upside down,' she told Daily Mail Online.

'I don't just go see a doctor anymore. I have to schedule MRIs every six months, and I have a physical therapist, a mental health therapist.

'I have a certain diet I have to follow and if I stray from it, my body can tell.'

It all started in February 2015 when Megan, who now lives in New York, began to feel tingling in the bottom of her feet, but she just chalked it up to soreness from wearing high heels.

Then, the numbness progressed to her shins, into her knees and through her thighs.

Despite the increasing intensity of her pain over the next couple of days, Megan said she wasn't concerned.

At first, she assumed she was suffering from a magnesium deficiency in her diet.

Finally convinced by her sister to go see her doctor, she was quickly ordered an EMG and an MRI to rule out meningitis, ALS and lymphoma.

The very next day, the numbness and tingling in Megan's legs had become so severe that she could barely walk - left in almost a state of complete paralysis.

The EMG found severe swelling in her spinal cord, and ordered an immediate brain and spinal cord MRI.

When she left the doctor's office, expecting to her results in a few days, she instead received a call ordering to go the ER.

That's when a series of diagnostic tests took place: two spinal taps, blood work and strength tests from four different neurologists.

At this point, doctors were trying to diagnose her through a process of elimination while also attempting to reduce her spinal swelling.

After four or five days in the hospital, doctors finally told Megan she had transverse myelitis - a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord, and often an initial indicator of multiple sclerosis.

The combined results from her MRI, the spinal tap, blood work, electrical tests led to a confirmation of MS.

'I don't think any young woman is ready to hear that she has MS. I've been told the paralysis I experienced is one of the worst ways that MS can initially present itself,' Megan told Women's Health.

For context, when some people are diagnosed with MS, their first symptoms are blurred vision or a lack of coordination, or they have a little bit of numbness in their pinky finger.

At the worst point, before Megan's diagnosis, the paralysis had gone all the way up to the top of her rib cage, right below the bra line - what is known as an 'MS hug', a common first symptom.

She said: 'For me to go from a person who is boxing and doing CrossFit and yoga classes seven days a week to not knowing if I'd be able to walk again, was quite shocking.'

Sufferers of transverse myelitis fall into three categories:

  • About 30 percent of them are never able to walk again
  • Another 30 percent can walk with limited mobility and residual symptoms such as spastic gait and urinary urgency
  • The last 30 percent get most of their full mobility back

Megan fell into the last category - walking, moving and working out and doing most of the things she used to be able to do - but with some permanent nerve damage.

And there are plenty of other side effects. Any time it gets above 75F or there's humidity in the air, Megan experiences tingling up and down the back of her legs and spinal cord.

When her chin touches her chest, she gets a weird electronic sensation from her nerves misfiring down her back.

She also tires much more quickly and can't do many of the strenuous workouts she once could. If Megan wears heels for too long, she'll feel numbness and tingling.

Many assume MS is similar to ALS in that it's a degenerative disease. But sufferers of the disease are victim to attacks at random: be it going 30 years between attacks or five attacks in two years.

And although there is always the chance of ending up in a wheelchair, for Megan the chances are slim due to her having led a healthy lifestyle for so long.

She said: 'For me, the hardest part of all this is the unknown. There is no cure, so I'm waking up every morning wondering if I'm going to have another attack, or if today is going to be the day where five lesions pop up into my brain and I won't walk again.'

Megan says she's still learning how to handle her diagnosis. Because she doesn't look like she's sick, she says many assume her illness is not serious or she's faking.

'As far as going out and living my life, it's been pretty normal but I'm the not the same confident person I was, especially with dating and knowing that my body doesn't look the way I thought it would,' she said.

'But I have no control over anything other than my appointments and my medication. I can't think about all the "What ifs".

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

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