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Diagnosis Ten Years Later... “I Have MS”
By Judy Pottgen

I have MS. I have always been a fighter. But before I was diagnosed with MS I was frightened. It started with excruciating pain in my jaw. Pain relievers were of little to no help. I saw my family physician, who in turn referred me to my dentist, who said I had an abscessed tooth. That tooth was pulled and still no relief. I was then referred to a jaw specialist. No diagnosis. I saw a neurosurgeon friend. No help. Then referred to a neurologist. Had an MRI of the brain and cervical spine. Again, no diagnosis. I took my films home and as if out of a movie comedy, my neighbor, and a research physician told me to see a partner of his, who happened to be a neurologist specializing in MS. Finally a diagnosis, just before Mother’s Day - it is MS. Moreover, I probably had it for the past ten years, but the symptoms had been masked by my thinking they were side effects of breast cancer surgery more than a decade earlier.

I was put on a regimen of drugs, then more drugs, physical therapy, etc, etc. But I still had questions. Every day. So four years later I decided to start a MS support group. My family was wonderful and tried very hard to understand what I was going through, but they just “didn’t get it”.

The benefits of belonging to our support group are numerous. It is wonderful to sit in a room and have people who understand your daily struggles with MS because they are struggling also. We have each other to lean on in bad times and to celebrate with in good times. We have grown in numbers in these last three years and have quite a diverse membership. We are men and women, young and old, newly diagnosed and those having the disease for over 30 years. We learn from each other's experiences and we are cheerleaders for each other.

For some of our meetings we have guest speakers who keep us up to date on all the new drugs, the newest research, and the newest appliances made to make our daily lives easier. We have become a family and will continue to be strong because of the love and camaraderie and unbreakable bond we have formed.

The Multiple Sclerosis North Hills Support Group meets every second Tuesday of the month at Passavant Hospital, Donor Hall, 6:30 pm. Contact Judy at judpot50@yahoo.com or call (412) 979-2233. All are welcome, patients, family, caretakers, friends!

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