My first year of college, I kept getting injured. I was ashamed to ask for help, because I knew I’d be perceived as weak. I was never one to make excuses, so I continued to fight through the pain. For two weeks, my shooting arm was limp, numb, and tingling. Then my foot and ankle felt like they were on fire. I’d learn later that what I was experiencing was called nerve pain. I was so stressed, frustrated, and depressed that my hair was falling out. I was viewed as lazy and weak; two characteristics I have never been associated with. I knew something was wrong, but no one could understand. I would have never thought that it would have changed my life.
I transferred to a school closer to home. Mentally and physically, I was healing. I was working hard, planning for a new and positive season. I was ready to exceed all expectations. Then, it started happening again. I was running down the court, someone threw me the ball, and I never saw it coming. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone, because no one would understand. I was in denial that this was happening to me. I had always considered myself healthy, and my vision was always perfect. Whatever was happening, I was determined to overcome it. I’ll just work harder the next day, I thought, but when the next day came, the harder I worked out, the worse I felt.
I went to four different eye doctors, just to be told I have 20/20 vision and whatever I was feeling would pass. I knew it was something more. I called my pediatric doctor, and he suggested that I see a neurologist immediately. This scared me even more, because I was not even sure exactly what a neurologist did, but I knew I did not want to go. After seeing one neurologist, I was told I was having migraines. Somehow, five doctors later, I was not convinced. Next, I saw a second neurologist, and he delivered more concrete information. However, the information I was given was a reality I was not ready to face. Brain infection, Lupus, Lyme disease, and Multiple Sclerosis were all possibilities of what I was soon to be faced with. A lot of blood work, tests, and one brain MRI later (4 months later), I was down to two possibilities and sent to a Multiple Sclerosis center in New York. More test were ran, more MRI’s were taken, and after 5 long months of uncertainty…
September 28, 2012, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I’m not sure how it got here, or why it chose me, but all I know is this disease has changed my life in a way I could have never imagined. Fortunately, for me, I was diagnosed shortly after my 20th birthday. If you know anything about MS, those with the disease are usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Lucky me, right? As a full time Division I student-athlete, who was ranked within the top 40 girls’ basketball players in the nation -- throughout middle school and high school, this is not something you expect to happen midway through your college career. Not now, when you’re on your way to fulfilling your dreams of playing professional basketball. One of the hardest things, so far, has been coming to terms with the fact that I will never be able to play competitive Division I basketball again. This diagnosis has definitely deterred my hoop dreams; however, luckily for me, I was one of the kids who listened to the countless lectures on the importance of appropriately prioritizing my studies and basketball. I was always warned, “basketball is not forever,” so I made sure I performed in the classroom just as well as I did on the court. This diagnosis has changed my entire game plan; from days of migraines, pain in my legs, etc., or the dreaded task of daily injections to my future career plans and goals. I can be weakened from this disease, or I can have a negative attitude. However, I chose a different option: I vow to get my voice heard. I will raise awareness for MS, and I will make sure that people like me, who think they’ve gotten it all figured out, have a plan B.