Facial Numbness Was My First MS Symptom

Courtesy of Michelle Clos
Michelle Clos, age 45, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her 30s after an episode of facial numbness. She cut back on her 70-hour workweeks when fatigue crept into her life, and now finds that napping can help prevent dizziness and feelings of instability when walking. But she can still run 5Ks with energy management and gets great joy helping other people with MS achieve their goals.

I had my first MS episode in 1990 when I was a senior in college. I was unable to walk and went to see my doctor. I was diagnosed then with transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder related to MS. My doctor basically said there was a 50-50 chance that I would have MS, stay away from stress and have a good day.

I left with that and a lot of fear that it would return. I would fall asleep every night wondering if the next day was going to be the one I couldnt walk. Then I changed my strategy and decided to focus on what was good and working every day instead of what wasnt. I decided to put it out of my mind.

In 1994 I had another episode. My doctor told me he could give me medication, but it was a lottery system and I didnt feel right taking medication from people who had serious problems. I was in grad school and I didnt get diagnosed because my doctor didnt want me to carry that label at such a young age.

Then in 2001, I had more symptoms. The right side of my face and body went numb. That was when I was officially diagnosed. One of the reasons it took so long was that I was in denial. I went to the doctor by myself and didnt even think about having my partner go with me. I just wanted to find out for myself. I was on automatic pilot—I was not thinking of the future because it was too overwhelming.

After the numbness went away, I didnt have outward symptoms for a long time. Then, over the course of three years, an insidious fatigue crept into my life. I had been promoted to a managerial position at work and was working about 70 hours a week.
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As told to: Tammy Worth
Last Updated: October 15, 2012

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