Ten years ago today, and 2.5 years after moving to Ireland, I was diagnosed with MS, an incurable, neurodegenerative illness that would change my life in ways I never imagined. Needless to say, it was an unwelcome event. Little did I know, however, that it would eventually lead to a life well lived.
There was no manual that showed me how to adapt, accept and live with a chronic illness. MS, associated with 50+ different symptoms, impacts each patient differently. There are numerous symptoms I might never have at all, and that in itself gives hope.
MS also gave me a hospital-acquired superbug and some pretty nasty chest infections. It tackled my eyes, my limbs and my energy levels. Have the past ten years been plain sailing? No, but it wasn’t the worst thing in life either. It tries to destroy, but it gets nowhere at all.
Ten years later, a lot of progress has been made on the pharmaceutical front. There are now 11 first-line and second-line disease-modifying treatments for relapsing/remitting MS; there are now oral as well as IV treatments, and 1 specifically for secondary-progressive MS. When I was diagnosed, there were only 5 in total, all of which injectables for relapsing/remitting MS.
Today? Ongoing research into what else can deliver positive outcomes, keeps me believing in life. I wholeheartedly remain optimistic for those reasons only. I still keep standing tall, and I’m still in love with life. The more pain or illnesses I have, the more I want to live.
I got MS, yet I won. I won fantastic friends and a totally new philosophy on life. I won love where I thought there was none. In need, you truly learn who your real friends are. I found trust in those that stuck around. I found new ones that are like close family, and they’re the best people to have in life.
MS itself? It took my job, but it doesn’t own me. MS doesn’t get praise for having me. No matter how bad MS treats me in the future, I am its CEO instead. ‘I will never lose’ is the knowledge that I conquer MS every single day of the year. Perhaps not physically, but mentally I am stronger than MS.
It wasn’t what I had dreamed of when I moved to Ireland, but it’s here to stay.
I have MS.
Manufacturer/Distributor Year of FDA Approval & Adminstration
Aubagio® – Genzyme, a Sanofi company – 2012 – oral tablets
Avonex® – Biogen Idec – 1996 – intramuscular injection
Betaseron® – Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. – 1993 – subcutaneous injection
Copaxone® – Teva Neuroscience – 1996 – subcutaneous injection
Extavia® – Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. – 2009 – subcutaneous injection
Gilenya® – Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. – 2010 – oral tablets
Lemtrada™ – Genzyme, a Sanofi company – 2014 – intravenous infusion
Novantrone® – EMD Serono, Inc./Immunex Corporation – 2000 – intravenous infusion
Plegridy™ – Biogen Idec – 2014 – subcutaneous injection
Rebif® – EMD Serono, Inc./Pfizer, Inc. — 2002 – subcutaneous injection
Tecfidera® – Biogen Idec — 2013 – oral tablets
Tysabri® – Biogen Idec — 2006 – intravenous infusion
To follow my journey, please visit Ireland-ms.com
#tenyears #10years #MS #MultipleSclerosis #LoveLife
Neurologically challenged by MS and personally by her will to succeed, Willeke is a disability awareness advocate seeking to improve neurological/MS services in Ireland. By highlighting difficult issues that come with such a diagnosis, she hopes her tenacity can bring some dignity to people most in need of a modern, inclusive healthcare system that looks after every aspect of life.
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