Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to that terrifying morning when I woke up and couldn’t speak properly or walk in a straight line. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been a very different person. For someone whose father had MS, I knew surprisingly little. I had no idea what CIS was, what an MRI would show, why I had to have a lumbar puncture.
I was in Limboland. I might develop MS. Or I might not. It is a cruel waiting game. I didn’t understand the ‘multiple’ part of multiple sclerosis. I left the clinic after that first relapse utterly petrified. What was I to do now? I had been given a couple of MS leaflets and information about how to contact the MS team. But if I didn’t yet have MS, why would I be given that? I was bewildered.
I accessed a few forums, one dedicated to Limbolanders and I gained a huge amount of information (a very, very special mention to ‘Rizzo’ who was amazing in answering all my queries). The forums were a lifeline, but at a cost. A lot of people had been stuck in Limboland for years, some well over a decade. Despair and anger oozed from the forum. We were all in a nasty, dark waiting room and I would feel a painful stab of strange envy when someone posted that they had been diagnosed, and were now leaving us behind; they had the golden ticket.
I read everything I could about the McDonald criteria, ticking off the four points bit by bit. Finally (but only 10 months later), I had my ticket. My brain threw up more lesions, far too many and I was diagnosed. Possibly one of the best and worst days of my life.
I wish I had been handed a step-by-step guide to life in Limboland, clearly explaining the whole diagnostic process, the frustrations, the waiting. Could someone please publish this? Letting us know that you have to go through so much, from first relapse to eventual diagnosis. Break us in gently. Please don’t throw us in the deep end.
So, to everyone diagnosed with MS, look out for the Limbolanders. Treat them kindly. Be an inspiration and show them we are not so bad, it’s not so scary. There is a life after diagnosis. Aren’t we all proof of this?