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MS

Sara was 22 when she was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Now 30, she talks about her life since.

Sara was 22 when she was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).

"It all started when I was in my final year of university. I was travelling home from a job interview when somebody stole my purse. It was very upsetting.

"Then I woke the next day and couldn’t see properly. My vision was blurry in my left eye, and I couldn’t see colours clearly. I also had pain behind my eye. I went to the doctor, thinking it would be something like conjunctivitis, but my GP was so concerned that she sent me to hospital that night.

"After a series of tests I was diagnosed with optic neuritis, which is the swelling of the optic nerve. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this is sometimes one of the first signs of MS.

"I then saw a neurologist and had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and some really uncomfortable eye tests. I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS and felt very scared.

"By this time, it was six months after my initial eye problems and I was struggling to walk. I was weak, shaky and felt a lot of tingling in my body. My parents noticed I was dragging my left leg. But I think these symptoms were linked to stress – it was just after September 11th, and I remember feeling absolutely devastated.

"I was very fortunate. My neurologist thought I was very well-suited for beta interferon injections. Beta interferon is a disease-modifying medicine that reduces the number and severity of MS relapses.

"Three months later, I was approved for this treatment and started my weekly injections. The side effects were absolutely dreadful. I had flu-like symptoms, which began 24 to 48 hours after the injection.

"I’m still on the injections now, aged 30. Fortunately the side effects have now become less severe, although I do still suffer from them. Because the disease and treatment side effects can make you feel lousy, I’m prone to depression, so I also take antidepressants.

"But by looking at me, you’d never know I have the illness. I work full-time for the NHS, and am doing a Masters degree. I find that it really helps to keep a positive mental attitude.

"I still suffer from fatigue and eye problems, and I now wear glasses. Some days, when my leg isn’t working well, I just take it easy. My work colleagues have been very supportive.

"When I go for my hospital check-ups twice a year, I see people in wheelchairs who are clearly in a much worse condition than I am. I consider myself very lucky."

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