I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on December 23rd 2007. I spent the next three mornings receiving a Corticosteroid treatment to reduce inflammation. I had paralysed on the right side of my face, I was having severe vertigo with nausea, I had double vision with a bobbing eye and fatigue. What a way to celebrate Christmas!
As a teenager, I was volunteering to feed Carole who had progressive MS. My mom and my two sisters were also feeding people with MS. When I moved to British Columbia in 1993, I decided to do more to help people with MS and I rode in four MS Bike Tours in Vancouver, Burnaby and Abbotsford.
Being an active person, I was mountain biking and hiking on a regular basis. My severe episode of MS and diagnosis in 2007 changed my life. Looking back, I had symptoms the summer before but I was not able to link it to anything. My eyes were moving involuntarily from right to left, I had vertigo with nausea and terrible migraines once to twice a month.
When I was diagnosed, I had three months of double vision with severe anxiety. The anxiety is part of my life every day and so is fatigue, nerve pain, numbness, atypical trigeminal neuralgia on both sides of my head/face, vertigo & nausea and headaches/migraines. Nothing is visible but it is there and it is making life really challenging. Every day I need to evaluate if I can achieve what I was planning to do. I often have to change or modify my plan. I am very lucky to have a great husband who supports me and helps me. I now go for smaller hikes on the mountain, walks in nature, yoga classes, riding my bike and gardening. Sometimes, it takes me a few days to recover from activities I did. I regularly nap or rest in the afternoon.
In January 2019, I realised I was not able to work anymore. It took me six months to start feeling human again and being able to do a full day without resting or crying. I contacted the MS Society to have help filling in applications and answer questions. This is one of the services the MS Society provides in addition to research. The MS Society also helped me filling in the form for CPP Disabilities. I am very grateful for the resources offered to me.
Last year was challenging with COVID-19. The stress of the situation was difficult for me to manage. I had regular migraines and the nerve pain was a daily problem being almost impossible to ignore and manage. Then I thought about people with MS that need more support than I do. This is for them that I ride every year. I am riding again this year and I have chosen a route that will bring enjoyment to me. I am hoping for a cure to be found and to ensure that people with MS have the support they need (it can be legal aid, help filling out paperwork, financial help, needing equipment, proper diagnosis, proper treatment, etc.). We need a quality of life and we need to know that we can get up the next morning and feel good. Please help me reach my goal to support the research to end MS.
Claudine P. Bourgaize