About me: My name is Melissa and in 2005 I was living the life in LA. I was 34, young and healthy. Or so I thought.Before we get to 2004, we need to go back to December, 1993.
I was born with congenital Hydrocephalus, which we discovered when I was 23. I flipped out of the back of a pick-up truck in a Christmas parade, dressed as Rodney the Reindeer. I hit my head, had a major concussion and to this day I still have 6 hour unaccounted for. When they did the CT scan, they found that I had a “slowly evolving stenosis between the third and fourth lobes of my brain.” And I had had this, since birth. I was also told I was not a candidate for a shunt, because “your brain has compensated for the last 22 years and to put a shunt in would destabilize my brain, causing it to sag like a fallen souffle, ripping the blood vessels from the interior of my cranium and leaving me a vegetable.” Alrighty then.
So, in 2004 when I started having some numbness, trouble walking and the feeling that my underwear was riding up to where the sun don’t shine, I chalked it up to my Hydrocephalus. I did that after my neurologist at the time assured me that it was my Hydrocephalus and NOT Multiple Sclerosis. I did that right up until I went to UCLA Medical Center ER, thinking I would be rushed to surgery to get an Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) for my Hydrocephalus. Wrong. What followed was seven days in the hospital, eight MRI’s, and a giddy chief resident of neurology uttering the five words that would change my life on June 8, 2005:
“I’m sorry. You have M.S.”
It was at 8:25am Pacific time, on a Wednesday. I called my mother (God rest her soul) to tell her I wasn’t going to have brain surgery. Funny, when you realize having brain surgery is the lesser of two evils, and far more preferred to a life long, potentially debilitating chronic disease.
(As an aside, I did have my ETV surgery, six weeks after my MS diagnosis. But that’s another story for a different blog. And no, my two underlying brain conditions are NOT related. I’m special like that.)
Flash forward almost twelve years, and here i am: I have good days, I have bad days and I have terrible days. And yet, I thrive. I live my life to the fullest I can. Some days that means staying in bed and other it means driving cross country, and everything in between.