Welcome to TwinsCoast2Coast! Anyone living with Multiple Sclerosis or any other type of chronic disease has a story. My name is Tamara Kahn and I wanted to share mine with you.
Although my MS journey likely began years before, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 30 after my second daughter was born in 1998. (My identical twin sister, Terry, had been diagnosed with MS three years before. Not surprisingly, identical twins often share the same chronic illnesses.)
As I reflect back on my early twenties there were signs and symptoms of MS. My mother had died in 1992 after a long battle with cancer. A week after her death my now husband, Stephen, and I flew to California for a job interview. He was a California boy who was finishing his medical residency in Radiology and I was a Florida girl excited to start our new lives together. After a few days of interviews we took a break and went to the Sonoma wine country. Towards the end of a beautiful long walk, I had to stop as my legs were burning, tingling and felt heavy. I was in so much pain I couldn’t take another step. Stephen joked that I was just out of shape, but I had always been healthy so we assumed it was a combination of the stress of my mother’s illness and our cross country travel. A quick rest did the trick and I completed the walk but looking back at this episode, it most likely represented early symptoms of MS.
Fast forward a few years. I felt I was at my best on my 30th birthday. I vividly remember thinking to myself how blessed I was in life. I had a happy marriage with two beautiful daughters, aged 16 months and one month. One afternoon I had one girl in each arm and was walking down the stairs from the second floor. Suddenly my left arm felt very weak and I did everything in my power not to drop the babies. When my husband came home I told him about the weakness in my arm. He suggested I was having twin sympathy pains and given how close I am with Terry, I agreed.
As a Radiologist, my husband suggested I get an MRI to rule out anything serious. After the test, I walked into his Radiology reading room expecting good news. But as soon as I glanced at him, I knew our lives were going to be forever changed. He confirmed that the MRI of my brain showed signs consistent with Multiple Sclerosis.
I was fortunate enough to live near Stanford University Hospital and quickly scheduled an appointment with a MS neurologist. After many tests including an EEG and spinal tap I was officially diagnosed. Multiple Sclerosis?? Wait a minute! I was in the prime of my life. How could this be?
When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know much about the disease. Classically, MS is a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It took some time for me to accept that both my twin and I were now facing a chronic disease. MS has thoroughly changed everything about my life. It is definitely not a disease for anyone who is a “sissy” or the “weak of heart.”
Please follow along with both Terry and me as we continue sharing our story of living with MS. We’ll continue with stories of our daily and family life and how we’re transitioning through the stages and challenges of living with MS.