Health knowledge made personal
Birthday: May 22
Somewhere around November 18th or 19th of 2007, I started feeling what I thought were Carpal Tunnel symptoms in my right hand. The symptoms included: tingling of my fingers, numbness, and I was having trouble typing. I went out and bought wrist guards, and things designed to help CT patients. The symptoms continued for about two weeks and I promised I?d visit the doctor after Thanksgiving. On the day after Thanksgiving, I woke up with blurry vision. I wear glasses, so I thought maybe I was in need of a new prescription. I could see, just not clearly. By Sunday, I started to notice that I was tripping over my words (and my feet); I felt like I couldn?t think of what to say when trying to talk, and the vision was worsening. (In retrospect, we think I may have been experiencing some other more silent symptoms for as many as 12 months without knowing what was going on. Falling down outside of a friend's house for no-reason, vertigo, having difficulty seeing ? getting dizzy ? in rooms with bright, fluorescent light, swearing that I bought Diet Snapple and getting home and realizing I bought something totally different and not understanding how the wrong drink jumped into my cart at Wal-Mart. Those who know me know that those might have just been normal-Kim silly things, but looking back now, I guess they weren?t).
On the Monday after Thanksgiving, 2007, I hopped in my car, planning to go to work, and planning to make that doctor's appointment to check my hand, and yet another with the eye doctor to check my prescription. By the time I hit the highway, I couldn?t see much of anything. If both eyes were open, things were double. The brake lights on the cars in front of me were showing four lights, not two lights. If I closed my right eye, I could see enough to drive. And, I made it to work. I thought I was having a stroke.
My husband, Tom, picked me up at work, took me to my doctor's office, and we were promptly shipped down to the ER. After a few hours of CAT scans, EKG's, EEG's, X-Rays, enough blood work for a small family, we ruled out any serious brain tumors or strokes. But something was still seriously wrong. And, so began my three day visit at ?Hotel Hamot? here in Erie.
We ruled out diabetes, carotid artery blockages, heart problems, pituitary tumors, and a whole bunch of other scarily-named diseases and infections. On November 28, 2007, day three, I received my MRI results and it was determined that I have M.S. More specifically, I have RR-MS (there are four types of MS).
My type is called relapsing-remitting MS. People with this type of MS experience clearly defined flare-ups (also called relapses, attacks, or exacerbations). These are episodes of acute worsening of neurological function. They are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions) free of disease progression. It's the most common form of MS at time of initial diagnosis. Approximately 85% of people with MS have RR-MS.
So, what the heck is MS? MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. Surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers of the CNS is a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses.In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. These damaged areas are also known as lesions. Sometimes the nerve fiber itself is damaged or broken. Just like with ?Sunshine? and ?Moonlight?, the word ?lesions? are pretty scary. So, we?ve taken to calling my lesions, 'spots? on my brain, or when they are lit up during a relapse - 'sparkles?. I apparently have thirteen to sixteen lesions on my brain, and one on my spinal cord ? right at the base of the brain on the right side of my neck area.
Myelin not only protects nerve fibers, but makes their job possible. When myelin or the nerve fiber is destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted, and this produces the various symptoms of MS.
I?ve built this blog, not only to track my own journey for family and friends who are interested in my progress, but also to provide a positive forum for reflection, sharing and community. Remember, no two patients are the same. But, we?re all in this together. Let the sun shine brightly!
Kimberly A. Fabrizio is the executive assistant to the President of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. In her role, Fabrizio has liaison duties to virtually every division of the University and serves on the President's Cabinet. Previously, Kim served as Education Director for WQLN Public Broadcasting of Northwest Pennsylvania (PBS/NPR); Newspaper in Education Coordinator for the Erie Times-News; and Manager of Career Advising for Triangle Tech. Kim holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from Gannon University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Communication Studies from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree with the Fielding Graduate University, focusing on Educational Leadership and Change, with a specialization in media studies. Additionally, Kim is a former Advisory Board Member and Research Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research, and a graduate of the Grantsmanship Training Center, Los Angeles, California. She is also serves as a high school writing coach for WriteAtHome, Inc. She has served as an adjunct lecturer at Gannon University's Dahlkemper School of Business where she taught undergraduate courses in Marketing and Organizational Behavior. She also trains local organizations in the strategic planning and team-building process.
Kim has served on a variety of Boards and community committees including: the steering committee for the Northwest Pennsylvania Community College, the Board of Directors for Perseus House and the Perseus House Charter School, Leadership Center and the Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies Charter Schools and CelebrateErie/CelebrateKids 2002-2005. She is also a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is affiliated with the nationally recognized Coalition Pathways organization, is a Task Force Member of Erie's Promise, a member of the National Association of Female Executives, and a former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kim is proud to volunteer as a Citizen's Review Committee Member for the United Way, where she also volunteers with the ?Success By 6? initiative. She is a former Advisor to the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) ?National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.? Additionally, she is a campaign volunteer for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and an advisory board member for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Kim was also honored as an inaugural winner of the Young Erie Professionals? ?Generation-E Leadership Award? for helping to make Erie, Pennsylvania a better place to live, work and play.
Kim resides in North East, Pennsylvania with her husband Tom, and is step-mom to three children. In her free time, Kim enjoys spending time with her Labrador retriever, Oboe, kickboxing and motorcycling.