Last week my life was forever changed as I got the final diagnosis. “You have MS”
I had been experiencing weird symptoms for almost a year now. I can remember the exact moment I knew something was not right. My husband and I were on vacation with Naptime and Misty, in Vegas to watch the UFC fights in November of last year. It was the last day of vacation and I wanted to do some shopping for our daughter so we checked out of our room and I took a cab over to the mall. While shopping I had a strange sensation come over me that I never experienced before with sweats and dizziness. I got back in the cab and met my husband at our hotel. We sat for a while and I didn’t think I was going to be able to get on the plane that night to go home. I called my family doctor right then and there and made an appointment for the next day. Twenty minutes or so passed and it was like someone just shut off the sweats and dizziness. I got on the plane that night and just kind of chalked it up to “Wow that was weird” I went to the doctor that next day, they said I had a stomach virus, game me some pills and sent me home. This cycle would proceed for the next 6 months. After extensive blood work and 4 doctors later all they could find was my immune system was down and I had very low vitamin D. I was getting cold/flu every other week. I had been sick 11 times in 6 month. Then in April, my face went numb on my right side. I lost taste and I was told I had bells palsy. I went to 3 other doctors to try and get rid of it. Nothing worked. I decided to go to my dentist thinking it was a bad tooth. He did a panorama X-ray and looked right at me and said, you don’t have bells palsy. We need to get you in to a neurologist immediately. As fate would have it, we called, they had a cancelation and I was in to see the neurologist the next day. June 12th, a day I will never forget. 2 days before AFC outdoor event at Koots. I thought I would just talk to the doctor give him my symptoms like every other doctor. He would order labs and I would sit and wait. Not this time. He asked me question, looked at my previous labs, looked at me and said, “I suspect you have MS” WHAT? That’s all I could think. “What is MS?” He walked out of the room and I pulled up Google and tried to make sense of it. The doctor ordered the MRI and within 10 min I was in the machine listening to the popping and clicking with tear streaming down my face just hoping that it would come back fine. The MRI was done. I get sent back to the room. The doctor comes in and we start to look at my brain. Right there in front of my eyes he is pointing at little white spots all over. He said “I found 19 in total and you have one on your brain stem which is what I believe is causing your numbness in the face.” 19 WHAT? What is it? Well later after processing the information it was 19 lesions on my brain. This is the effect of MS and what has been causing my crazy symptoms. The doctor said its MS but to confirm it we need to so a spinal tap. So with this information I had to have the weigh ins the next day, fights the day after that and not to mention Randy Couture was in town and I had a fishing trip planned the day after the fights. I did this all while keeping this secret and putting on a strong face while I was so broken inside. I look back now and thank god for the distraction. Not really sure how I could have processed all of this without it. I went fishing with Randy, Mindy and my Dad on Fathers Day and Monday I had the spinal. Tuesday I started a heavy IV therapy dose of steroids for 5 days. The facial numbness went away and I got my taste back! I just had to wait another 6-8 weeks for the spinal results. The results came back last Thursday and it was 100% positive for MS. It was like reliving the first appointment all over again. I was secretly hoping the doctor got it all wrong and it was some cruel joke. I was waiting for Ashton Kushor to jump out and say you’ve been punked. Not this time.
This will not kill me, I will be around just as long as anyone else. The Neurologist said I was lucky that it wasn’t a brain tumor or a stroke. I know I am lucky! There are a lot of people out there in worse shape than I am. I will get through this just like the millions of other people with MS who get through it. There has not been an obstacle that I couldn’t take and I’m not letting this be the first!
My family has all told me that there is a reason that I have MS. I have not figured that out yet but maybe it’s to bring awareness of this disease through my awesome fight family and fans. Maybe together we can help each other take life one day at a time. That’s what I am doing. When people ask me what I am doing next week I just shrug. I just know what I am doing tomorrow, and then tomorrow I will know what I am doing the next day. I cannot thank my family enough for the support the last couple months. They have been to all my appointments and held my hand through the whole process. I have realized how precious the saying one-day at time is. It really rings true now.
To all the fighters, fans, sponsors and employees of the AFC I really appreciate your patience and understanding when things get a little rough for me. I am not an MMA fighter, but now I am a MS fighter and will fight this as hard as I can. Thanks for the love! AFC Sarah
Here is a little info on MS and a link to the National MS Society for more information on this disease.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”
Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.
When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.
The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe.