Charity Schedlosky of Humboldt, SK was just 27-years-old when she started to notice numbness and a lack of control in her right hand and foot. At the time she had no idea that she was joining an estimated 100,000 other Canadians on a lifelong journey with multiple sclerosis (MS).
“I went to my doctor thinking that it was just a pinched nerve,” she says. “But my doctor sent me in for a whole bunch of tests and I ended up at a neurologist. Finally, the results came back that I had MS. It was devastating, to say the least, especially at the age of 27.”
The neurologist […] said I could either go on medication, or I could be blind and in a wheelchair by the time I was 42. It didn’t take me very long to decide.Charity Schedlosky
For more than a decade, Schedlosky’s symptoms remained relatively mild. She felt fine some days and worse on others, which is common with relapsing-remitting MS. With this disease, however, it’s also common for the disease to take a sudden turn for the worse as the insulating layers of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are progressively damaged. In the winter of 2015, Schedlosky experienced just that. She began to have difficulty seeing, needing a cane to walk, and eventually was forced to quit her job as her MS became even more taxing.
“The neurologist basically gave me a choice,” she recalls. “She said I could either go on medication, or I could be blind and in a wheelchair by the time I was 42. It didn’t take me very long to decide.”
Rapidly-evolving treatment options
Fortunately, by that time, treatment for MS was on a different, much-improved level compared to when Schedlosky was first diagnosed. “It’s changed so much in the last 10 years that it’s hard to believe,” says Dr. Virginia Devonshire, a neurologist at the University of British Columbia and NMO Clinic in Vancouver. “It used to be that we had only a few options with some efficacy. Now we have so many therapies that we can find the right treatment for the right patient and avoid unwanted side effects,” she explains. “Every patient brings something different to the table. Some people prefer to be on a pill. For some people, an infusion administered periodically may suit their lifestyle best.”
For me, my biggest goal in managing my disease is all about being around for my family.Charity Schedlosky
Schedlosky, who is terrified of needles, opted for a daily oral medication. Today, she is walking without a cane, happily back to work, and having far more good days than bad. Most importantly, she is looking forward to a long and healthy future with her family. “For me, my biggest goal in managing my disease is all about being around for my family,” she says. “I want to be able to watch my grandchildren grow. I want to see my nephews grow up and get married. And if it weren’t for this medication, I would already be blind.”
With so many treatment options available, she encourages everyone diagnosed with MS to speak with their health care providers about the therapy that will help them attain their goals.
This article was made possible with support from a Canadian pharmaceutical research company.