When Liz Patterson was 37, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It has been two years since her diagnosis, and doctors tell Patterson she has likely been living with MS for many years.
“I woke up one morning with blurred vision,” said Patterson, who lives in North Carolina. “I went to the eye doctor, and he immediately sent me to the emergency room.”
After two MRIs, doctors diagnosed Patterson with MS, and her life changed instantly. With the help of her physicians, Patterson decided to treat the disease aggressively.
“I made it clear to my doctors that I am willing to do whatever it takes to prevent the disease from progressing,” she said. “While recent MRIs show my condition as stable, I am having a little more trouble with balance.”
Patterson refuses to let MS control her day-to-day life and continues to work full-time. Her health plan so far has covered many medical expenses, and she understands how fortunate she is. Initially, health insurance was one of her biggest worries.
“It really scared me – I kept thinking about insurance and how it will impact my life,” Patterson said.
Patterson manages her chronic condition in a variety of ways.
“One of the biggest things was finding a support group in my area – my local chapter of the MS Society,” she explained. “It’s a little funny that, at 37, I’m walking into a room full of older women, but that was the big turning point. They have a wealth of knowledge. They’ve been through the insurance nightmare.”
Until there is a cure, Patterson said she will advocate and speak out on behalf of those who suffer from chronic conditions.
“I’m in search of something greater than me,” she said. “I want a cure for everyone, not just me as a single person. If I can be used for research or a trial to unlock a problem, I’m willing to do that. In some way, this is my purpose. I need to be a voice and be in the forefront.”
The Chronic Disease Coalition will continue to support patients like Patterson through education and advocacy and by providing a platform to tell their stories. To share your story, click here.