Before I was diagnosed, I was employed by a small business owner in New York and I did not have any medical insurance. Due to not finishing college I was taken off my mother’s insurance. This delayed my diagnosis, however, it was clear to everyone that there was something going on. Once I was diagnosed, I continued working full time and my employer at the time provided insurance for me. Things were a little challenging and there were some responsibilities I could no longer handle, but, my employer always worked with me and remained understanding.
Things in my daily living changed but I continued to live my life. In 2015, I got married and moved to North Carolina right before I had my daughter. I struggled with ongoing shaking in my body but I continued to work, at the time being the only one able to provide for my growing family. I worked two and even three jobs at a time until my MS took over. Shortly after moving, I struggled to maintain my employment due to the MS. Employers continuously have let me go with explanations such as “you are working too slow”. Unfortunately, this has happened on more than one of the jobs that I was trying to maintain.
Due to my difficulties with maintaining a job, my health has deteriorated. The lack of medicine and insurance throughout this time has caused my vision to worsen, my balance is off due to my aggressive shaking caused by this disease, I also deal with memory loss and it is sometimes difficult for others to understand me when I speak.
In 2017, I found a group on Facebook which consists of individuals with MS. The group discussed a number of people who were able to have a stem cell procedure done that changed their life with MS. In some cases this procedure has taken away their symptoms and has allowed them to return to their lives before MS. In other cases the procedure has stopped the disease in its tracks.
The doctor who performed the procedure resides in Chicago. I inquired and was able to fly out to Chicago to see if I would qualify for this procedure. My sister and I went to meet him and his staff in December of 2017 in order to get testing done to see if I would be a candidate. The doctor told me based on my MRI he did not expect me to be able to walk because most people with MRI’s that look like mine are unable to do anything on their own and they typically can no longer walk. Based on what I am still able to do, he said I was a candidate for the procedure. The doctor expressed that time plays a role in my health and this procedure. I am currently waiting to hear back from my insurance to see if they will cover the cost of this procedure. If the insurance does not approve the procedure, the cost out of pocket is $125,000. If they do approve the procedure the amount of money I am requesting would be significantly less.
I am determined to not let MS sit me down or put me out. I am already, by the grace of God, defying the expectations because I can still walk and do some activities independently without assistance. It is not easy but I plan to continue staying active and fighting this disease that is trying to take over. I have a little girl as well as a stepdaughter to live for. I want to be able to see them grow and do for them like any father would. With the support of my family and friends as well as the help of God, I am going to keep fighting and keep pushing.
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