Zazi Gohar – MY MS Diagnosis

I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved looking at the stars. Then, I wanted to be one of the spice girls, a doctor, or a teacher. Then an artist. I applied for nursing school in the end. I guess at the time it was because I wanted to have purpose in my work, I wanted to help people. Even though I struggled with Math and Science, I worked really hard.

I remember studying the nervous system and the brain. I was fascinated. Now looking back, it was probably because it was due to symptoms I was experiencing. Anxiety and stress are a great disguise for the early signs of MS. Even while learning about the nervous system and MS, I never suspected it could have been that.

Chronic pain and anxiety. That is all that ended up in my medical notes. Multiple tests and specialist referrals, acupuncture and physio for old sports injuries. I remember telling myself one night as I had shooting pains from my neck down my left arm that no medication would touch the sides of,

“This is the best your body will ever be again. Let’s learn how to cope with it.”

Graduating was a huge achievement for me, and I landed my dream job in the Emergency Department. I loved my job. I loved the people I worked with. I loved the work I did, the people I met and helped. I was absolutely in my element and thought I was set.

They say when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But when you lose your vision while driving to start a shift at the hospital and your hands go numb, it becomes a little tricky. I took some leave and the symptoms resolved.

“Wow I was stressed, I needed a holiday”…

In August 2020 after the pandemic hit, I lost feeling from my waist down. I felt electric shocks down my spinal cord and my bladder couldn’t hold a drop. I continued to show up to work because I could walk and my vision was fine. Until it wasn’t again. I walked in to the hospital that day to start a shift, and I didn’t come out again as just a nurse. I now knew what it felt like on both sides for people in that building.

It is important to remember that physicians are human too. Even when learning about MS and experiencing MS, I didn’t think it was MS. I passed all the tests, I refused to let myself deteriorate and practiced them when the doctor left the room. It wasn’t until my MRI lit up like a glow stick, I received my diagnosis.

MS is different for everyone, but I think we can all agree that hearing that diagnosis changes your life forever. You lose sight of what you imagined your life to be, the things you would do. I buckled in for the stages of grief I had learnt about in University – with no actual idea of what to expect.

There is no instruction manual, no rules on how to handle this that works for everyone. It is not one size fits all. Do not judge yourself for how you handle this. Some times you will be brave, and other times you will need help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Try things, and try them again if you fail the first time. Learn to say no, and more than anything, NEVER give up on yourself.

Zazi Gohar (RRMS) 2024