My Story: Nate Pullins

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I came from a middle class family in NW Indiana. My childhood and teenage years were filled with excitement; I played local sports through high school and continued to play basketball and softball till my early thirties. I started to notice changes in my balance, ever so minimally, and in my mid-thirties I was diagnosed with a case of Bell's Palsy. There was demolition of the 7th cranial nerve, just in front of my right ear, and the symptoms were loss of movement and sensation on the right side of my face from my forehead to my chin!

My right eye was open for several months, but the worst was I couldn't smile for five months. Half of my tongue and taste buds were also affected. My swallowing mechanism was affected, and that was scary. My speech was slurred for five months, but I had about an 80% recovery.I made it to my 40s and was going well, but there seemed to be something else going on! I was not able to walk long distances, which happened gradually, over ten years. Periodically, my right foot would drag and nearly cause me to fall.

Something was happening but I never told anybody. Near-falls were never witnessed. I worked night shifts as a registered respiratory therapist, and my duties required me to be all over the hospital. My poor walking was affecting my work performance. My back was also hurting terribly at the time, so I went to my doctor and a spinal MRI was scheduled. Showed my back was fine. My balance was still off but of course I never told anyone. DENIAL! Then in my late fifties I had both hips replaced—osteoarthritis. Nice!

After that I had palsy of the right eye, and so my right eye closed for four weeks. Funny, how we adapt to these difficult situations. I actually got pretty good seeing with one eye. That affliction eventually corrected to 100%.

In 2012 my vision changed terribly. I was working on a phone and a screen in front of me; typing skills left me—gone! Then went my cognitive skills and a sudden lack of understanding speech. Thinking was so difficult. At the end of a day’s work I was beat! My driving was also getting questionable, so I made an appointment with my PCP in February 2012. He thought I had confusion between my eye and my ears, and scheduled an MRI of my brain. A neurologist did a physical test on me and said let's look at your MRI together. He showed me what looked like swiss cheese: my brain had fifteen atrophy scars. Low and behold, one of the plaque scars was right on the the 7th cranial nerve. Bell's Palsy!

All of that, and I am happy. I don't work because all of the symptoms don't allow me to. SSI is helpful. No one knew I felt the way I did. After church one Sunday I told my son how I’ve been afflicted for so long, and he was sad for me. Yes, I'm not like I used to be, but I am happy. Happy about my journey—it’s been dynamic, for sure! I told my wife that Sunday as well and she asked me, "why didn't you tell me?" I didn't know! Today I still have lots of symptoms that are bothersome, but I am happy at sixty years old.

Something was happening but I never told anybody.

With God on our side, who can be against us?

With God on our side, who can be against us?

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I use my roller walker everywhere I walk due to 15 falls. A candle is close to me in case there is a power outage. I speak slower, so I make sure to pronounce words clearly and carefully. I don't drive anymore, which makes me sad, but to be safe for me and others is important. I'm going to start taking vitamins that were mentioned here.

Try to be in charge of the disease. We do have some control!

Who has been there for you? How?

My wife—she is always there for me. My two stepsons and my son; they take care of the heavy work! My church. With God on our side, who can be against us?

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

Educating my family about my disease. New Life Outlook is the best. I read from it to my wife and anybody else that listens.

What's your advice to someone else living with Multiple Sclerosis?

Be thankful to God for giving us our savior, Jesus Christ. Give all your worries to Him!

Is there anything else we should know?

Be patient with others. I guess to try to keep calm. Stay out of the heat as much as possible. Try to be in charge of the disease. We do have some control!
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