My name is Heather, and for years I have struggled with bouts of Optic Neuritis as well as Transverse Myelitis. I first became sick in 2004 as a junior in high school. It was then when I had two episodes of optic neuritis. Due to the obscurity of my symptoms, I was never treated or sent to a neurologist.

It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college after a very bad attack of optic neuritis, leaving me blind in my left eye, that I was sent to see a neurologist. I was then diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

In the summer of 2006, just after my first year of college, I experienced loss of motor control and feeling on the right-hand side of my body (arms and legs). This eventually led to paralysis on that side of which I was immediately hospitalized for and given the drug Solu-Medrol via IV. After a month of hospital stays, I was allowed to go home where I continued daily physical therapy until I was once again able to use my limbs. This was a very hard time for me and I struggled with what was going on inside of my body.

After the attacks, I started MS medications (Rebif and then Avonex) neither of which worked. My neurologist decided it was time to look into other diseases and therefore we looked at Lupus, etc. We eventually came upon Neuromyelitis Optica; however, I did not fit the full criteria, due to the fact I did not test positive for the biomarker, nor have there been any indications of an active lesion on my spine. Nevertheless, it has been decided that my diagnosis is Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMO).

It has been a long and hard battle, but I always make myself fight. I never let myself give in as I refuse to let this disease bring me down. I am a full-time undergrad student, and although I cannot go to school on a regular campus, I still maintain honors rankings. One day, I am sure a cure for this disease will be found, and there will be an end to our suffering.

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