Playing with your children is one of the joys of being a parent. But what if your body won’t let you?
That’s the reality Marie-Claude Park faced a couple of months after her second child was born. A serious relapse of her Multiple Sclerosis (MS) left her unable to care for her new daughter.
Marie-Claude first suspected something was wrong in 1996, on a drive from Montreal to Toronto. Her legs had started to go numb and she had no idea what was happening with her body. Within one year, she was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, a form of the disease that is unpredictable and is characterized by periods of serious weakness, numbness and discomfort or flare-ups and remission periods.
“For me, it affected mostly my lower body,” said Marie-Claude. “I could barely walk. It’s like all of your nerve endings are tingling or on fire.”
At the time of her diagnosis, Marie-Claude had no idea what the future would hold. She was given one of the three therapies available at the time and told to continue living her life. She pressed on – met her husband, married and had her first child.
But having children proved to stimulate her MS. After all three of her children were born, Marie-Claude relapsed, each one more severe and longer than the previous.
“After the birth of my first child, I had a minor relapse,” recalled Marie-Claude. ““Two months after my second child was born, I ended up in the emergency room.”
When balancing career and family with the disease became too hard, Marie-Claude decided to focus on her family and hoped new treatment options would soon come. Despite trying a variety of new medicines over the years, Marie-Claude still experienced relapses that kept her from participating in family activities like skiing. Then, in 2011, her neurologist introduced her to a new medicine – It would change everything; the difference was like night and day.
“I have no more headaches or side effects and I feel a lot better,” said Marie-Claude. “I haven’t had a relapse in two years.”
Today, Marie-Claude can focus on her family, take part in ski trips and play with her kids. She will always have MS, but with her symptoms well-managed, she has a new lease on life.