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Faces of Multiple Sclerosis: Fairmount City Woman Continues Career But Battles Extreme Fatigue, Pain
Lee Ann Gould-Price grew up in Fairmount City area near New Bethlehem. She had a happy, healthy childhood and attended Hawthorn Elementary and then Redbank Valley High School, graduating in 1987. Following school, she went to Lenape Technical School and became a Licensed Practical Nurse, then got married and moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, where her husband was stationed.
She and her husband moved back to the area in 1995, shortly after their son was born. They had a daughter the following year. Two years later, Lee Ann decided to return to the workforce and began working for a local medical practice where she has worked ever since.
Her health issues began in 1999 with what she later realized was her first major flare-up, though at the time she accepted a diagnosis related to bulging discs in her back and fought through it. It wasn’t until her second flare-up, which occurred in 2007, when she had numbness from the tips of her toes to her upper abdomen, that she began to believe it could be something more.
“I had gone to 12 different podiatrists seeking help. I kept getting different diagnoses such as Mortons Neuroma and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. I have had shots, braces, anti-inflammatories, muscle rubs and ‘grandma shoes,’ which I still wear,” Lee Ann told exploreClarion.com.
“I was actually going to see a physiatrist to see about injections when he mentioned I had more symptoms like MS. He was the one that actually ordered my first MRI with contrast.”
Following her MRI, Lee Ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis, which affects 2.5 million people worldwide, including 400,000 in the United States alone, is a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system. It occurs when an individual’s immune system attacks the myelin, which is the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
Lee Ann began taking a high dose of intravenous Solu-Medrol, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, for a few days then began injection of interferon, which is based on a protein that the human body naturally produces as part of its natural immune defenses. She was taking three injections per week.
“To be quite frank, they hurt, left welts, and just made you feel miserable for a while,” said Lee Ann.
She remained on the interferon injections for five years before finally getting to the point where she just couldn’t take them anymore. Her treatment was then switched to an oral capsule taken twice daily, with more manageable side effects.
Even with her treatments, Lee Ann says it is sometimes a struggle.
After years of issues with her feet limiting her activities, her neurologist showed her the cervical MRI, which showed that between the steroids for her flare-ups and the limited space between her vertebra due to stenosis, lesions, and a bone spur, the spinal fluid was interrupted, leaving her feet with problems.
“It affects my activity, not a lot, but yes, it does. I know what can bother me worse and that sometimes limits me. Sometimes after work, I go home and just do nothing. But, my legs and feet are the worst.”
She also struggles with fatigue, a very common symptom of MS.
“The MS fatigue gets me. I hate mornings and my feet and legs really bother me. The word ‘lassitude’ should be in the MS handbook. This is a perfect word to explain MS fatigue. It explains it all!”
Lee Ann also noted that while MS is now getting more attention and awareness, many people still don’t really understand it and what it means to live with MS.
“I may look good, but inward I may not be. Every MS’er I am sure has been told ‘you look good’ or ‘you don’t look sick.’ Nobody has a clue.”
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