My name is Juanita Bezuidenhoudt, I live in Brandfort in the Orange Free State. My MS story started when I was 28 years old with a baby of 10 months and a daughter of 28 months when I was diagnosed.
I had blurry vision as if there was Vaseline in my eyes, and this specific day I got up and my right eye was pitch-black. I closed my left eye and I could see nothing with my right eye. I was shocked.
I made an urgent appointment with my general practitioner who referred me to an optometrist, who did a thorough checkup. The optometrist could not see anything, saying “you have an illness where the dr cannot see any faults, but the patient cannot see anything either”. I was sent for an MRI and the radiologist gave me the diagnosis, “you have MS”. It did not really mean anything to me, I did not know the word MS and neither my husband, nor I, had any knowledge of this rare disease.
I was sent to Dr Meyer, a neurologist, who told both my husband and I that I have a positive diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I was admitted to hospital immediately, connected to a drip and received 5 days of 1000mg of cortisone a day.
For months after diagnosis, I still had no idea. My neurologist did not think it necessary to tell me more or for me to find out more. My husband read up more, but still, we did not regard it as a big deal.
I had relapse after relapse and after the third one, we realized that it was serious and that it was not going to be easy. I was started on an injection and we kept up with finding out more. We joined the MS Society closed group which educated us far more about it sharing with others in the same boat.
I basically had a relapse every year, recovering almost 100% every time. The worst relapse was when I lost my balance. I was treated for diarrhea because of the vomiting and hospitalized for 5 days and released. Symptoms of vomiting and imbalance continued and on the Monday my GP referred me to the neurologist. I was again treated with cortisone but did not regain my balance 100% after that.
I have the perfect support system, my husband and 2 kids. The kids basically grew up with MS and they handle it quite good and my husband learnt how to handle me in the worst of times.
Face it; we are not the easiest people to work with, seeing that we have extreme mood swings and anger outbursts. My husband is coping with each of these extremes of mine.
I cannot see how a person can cope with MS on their own.
My faith, my husband and my children are my support structure to cope.