My Story: Kimberly Bean

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

It started with pain and numbness on my left side. I honestly thought I was over stressed and over worked. When it started getting worse, I went to my doctor and was given medication and sent on my way. When that didn't help, I returned. I had blood work done, and it came back with nothing.

My doctor then increased the dosage. I went back to her several more times over the next few months. We tweaked the medication, and on the 3rd or 4th visit, my doctor said I probably had fibromyalgia and took the "wait and see" approach.

The numbness eventually got a little better, but then I started noticing balance and vision issues. I remember walking down a hallway at work one day, having to hold onto the wall to keep my balance. If I was somewhere I couldn't hold onto a wall; I would be afraid someone would see me and think I was drunk. It almost felt as if I was walking on a boat – swaying back and forth.

My vision went from a little blurry to straining to see even with my glasses. The thing that probably freaked me out the most was when I started getting double vision.

Things got so bad one day that I decided to just go to the emergency room. I saw multiple neurologists, who all did evaluations on me.

After a few hours of waiting, the neurologist who was head of the hospital's MS clinic came in to see me and ordered some tests. After those results came back, she said I could choose to have a lumbar puncture done to help confirm the results. I opted to have it done, and the following day she confirmed my diagnosis of MS.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I had to slow down. I had to learn to listen to my body.

I did return to work after my diagnosis, but on a reduced schedule. As someone who worked six to seven days a week and was averaging between 60-80 hours a week, I thought learning to slow down would be hard.

I needed to do it though because I found even working a reduced schedule was a huge challenge for me. I was barely able to function because of my extreme fatigue.

Then, after my second hospitalization in 3 months, my doctor and I felt it would be best for me to stop working. Even though I no longer work, I still need to listen to my body. If I need to rest, I rest.

Who has been there for you? How?

My father has been there for me the most. He does all he can to try to learn about MS and what it is exactly that I deal with.

He understands that I may be having an off day and that if I'm tired for seemingly no reason, that there is a reason!

He has been there not only emotionally for me, but also financially too. Being on disability is hard, so he would send a little something my way whenever he could.

After much discussion, he and I decided it might be best for me to move and go to live with him. Now, I get the support and understanding I need in person.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

An accomplishment that I am proud of is not a physical achievement, but more an emotional accomplishment so to speak.

I'm proud that I was able to make it through the first year after my diagnosis and come out a stronger person. It was extremely hard for me.

My boyfriend who was my best friend ended up leaving me. It was heartbreaking to know that the person who just two months earlier said he would be there and fight this with me could suddenly walk away.

After a few months of struggling with not only losing the person who I thought would always be there for me but also dealing with my diagnosis, I found the strength to reach out and get the help I needed.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

An accomplishment that I am proud of is not a physical achievement, but more an emotional accomplishment so to speak.

I'm proud that I was able to make it through the first year after my diagnosis and come out a stronger person. It was extremely hard for me.

My boyfriend who was my best friend ended up leaving me. It was heartbreaking to know that the person who just two months earlier said he would be there and fight this with me could suddenly walk away.

After a few months of struggling with not only losing the person who I thought would always be there for me but also dealing with my diagnosis, I found the strength to reach out and get the help I needed.

What's your advice to someone else living with MS?

My advice would be not to judge yourself against others, and that it's okay to say it's okay. Sometimes it is hard to stay positive. But you know what, it's okay that you sometimes feel that way.

You're not the only one!

So many times I would read articles from others who battle MS and end up feeling horrible about myself. They'd write about how they are training for a marathon or how they just built a life sized replica of an Egyptian pyramid – by hand, all in one weekend.

I'd sit there and think, well I took a shower today and had to rest afterward! I decided I needed to stop judging myself. Everyone is different. So you know what? I showered, and I rested. That's okay for me!

I'm proud that I was able to make it through the first year after my diagnosis and come out a stronger person. It was extremely hard for me.

About Kimberly Bean

My Story: Kimberly Bean

I'm in my early 40's and was diagnosed about a year and a half ago.

I enjoy cooking and baking and have recently taken up painting to try to help me relax. I also enjoy listening to music and the occasional bowling outing.

I have a sweet, little Lhasa-poo who is my service dog. She has helped me get up and around and into a daily routine.

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