As Sunny knows, one does not defeat multiple sclerosis. The disease is here today, and it is still here tomorrow. But with help from skilled, caring physicians at the Waddell Center, one can rise above it. One can point to victories. And for Sunny, whose given name is Sanaz, there have been three.
The first was acceptance of her diagnosis, which followed an episode of light-headedness and double vision. Sunny found her way to the Waddell Center, where her care was expertly managed and where she found compassionate reassurance. “I was really scared,” Sunny recalls. “I thought this was the end of world; I thought I was going to die. There were times I was so terrified I would go there and cry and cry and cry. They were amazing. I had considered moving back to New Jersey to be with my family, but I decided I wanted to remain here and keep my independence. So the Waddell Center became my family.”
A few years later, Sunny experienced her first exacerbation, an attack that turned her entire body numb. It was a turning point, an indication that it was time to go on medication. But the medication proved insufferable. Sunny gave herself an injection every other day, then suffered flu-like symptoms for the next 36 hours. She also continued to suffer periodic attacks, which made her feel as if someone had “opened my head and shoved in a sponge or cotton balls.” Miserable, she told her new doctor at the Waddell Center that she didn’t want to live anymore. Her second victory over MS followed.
Her doctor introduced her to a new medication that produced remarkable results for patients with relapsing MS but that also, by turning off the immune system, carried potentially grave risks of infection. Sunny knew she was taking a chance, but in her words, “If I could live even one year without flare-ups and side effects, it was worth it.” Eight years later, Sunny is thriving – gratefully – on this therapy.
Her third victory is perhaps sweetest of all. Sunny hadn’t expected to have children, but after marrying four years ago at age 36, she and her husband gradually began to talk about having a child. Nearly two years ago Sunny raised the topic with her current Waddell Center doctor, Aram Zabeti, MD, who told her: “If there is ever a time when you want to try to have a child, now is the time.”
Sunny stopped taking her medication so that it would not be in her system should she conceive, and a few months later, she discovered she was pregnant. Dr. Zabeti was the second person she told. Today, the mother of a healthy baby boy, Sunny is back on the medication that allowed her to enjoy life again.
Throughout her trials and victories, the Waddell Center team has been there for her. “They’re my family,” Sunny says. “For a patient who feels like your life is depending on them, that’s the ultimate.”
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Hope Story Disclaimer – This story describes an individual patient’s experience. Because every person is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Outcomes are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.