Here on BlackDoctor.org, we have written about Multiple Sclerosis (MS) many times, and hopefully the content we’ve given you all has been helpful! With that, sometimes I believe the best way to understand and learn about something is to hear someone’s first-hand experience. My best friend, Nia, has MS. I decided to ask her some questions as a young Black woman with MS and what a relapse is like for her to gain an understanding about relapses and MS as a whole.
Give me a brief history about how you were diagnosed and what led up to that, and what your first relapse was like too.
The shortest version I can give about my diagnosis story goes back to 2015 with my first MS symptom which was vertigo. I was attending my math class when all of a sudden the room started to spin and it was spinning out of control. I informed my professor that I was not feeling well but as I was walking out of the classroom I passed out.
The only thing I remembered after that was being in the emergency room with my mom and telling her that the room was just spinning uncontrollably and I didn’t know what happened.
Since MS was not an option for a diagnosis at the time, I was misdiagnosed with meunière disease (an extreme version of vertigo). After 5 years of “remission”, my “new symptom” flared up and it was optic neuritis. The optic neuritis flare-up led to the true diagnosis of my MS.
READ: How to Know if Your MS Relapse Needs a Doctor
How do you know you’re having a relapse? What are your symptoms?
When it comes to multiple sclerosis (MS), my MS symptoms are chronic fatigue, optic neuritis and vertigo. For me, vertigo happens more frequently as I currently have a 10-15mm lesion on that portion of my brain.
So when I do experience a vertigo relapse, I can only tell if I’m having one when I can’t concentrate on my task at hand. Other times, I will never know when another relapse will happen because it will just happen at the spur of the moment.
How often does that happen?
My relapses happen very seldomly. Since I was diagnosed at an early stage of MS (relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis – RRMS), I was able to hop on medication to help slow the progression of my MS.
Because of these meds, I am able to not have so many relapses at one time.
However, because MS is a degenerative neurological disease, my medication could stop working and I could potentially have an