Cliff and Andrea Currie have been battling MS for over 2 years, but only recently was Cliff accurately diagnosed with the help of MRI.
Cliff Currie was recently diagnosed with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis
How was your MS presenting pre-diagnosis?
Hindsight is 20/20. I had all of the telltale signs of MS for MANY years that I wrote off as mysterious ailments that would come and go such as –
- Severe back pain
- Unexplained fatigue
- Inability to exercise and keep up with peers
- Issues with word and thought recall
- Inability to drive without directions
- Urinary incontinence
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision
- Heat intolerance
Cliff has always been a very quirky guy which is why his random ailments didn’t really concern me. Sometimes, his inability to tolerate crowds and his strange eating/drinking habits would grate on my nerves but that seemed pretty par for the course. However, over the last 2 years his symptoms started to get concerning. I could tell he was in a whole lot of pain that no gluten-free, sugar free diet could resolve.
Many people go through a long journey to get an MS diagnosis. What did yours look like?
When I was going through a relapse I would experience an entirely new set of symptoms that would lead me to various doctors, none of which were a neurologist! Each doctor would run a battery of tests and then announce that I had one or more of the following:
- Pulled muscle
- Food allergy
- Blood sugar
- Vitamin deficiency
- Urinary tract cyst
I suppose they all sounded pretty accurate at the time and who was I to second guess them?
In the beginning a pulled muscle and anxiety seemed like likely causes of his pain and so we just followed the doctor’s orders. Over time as Cliff and I traversed the medical world for my health issues, we became quite adept at advocating for our own health. It became pretty clear that many of the things he was diagnosed with were either incorrect or just a symptom of a larger problem.
How were you ultimately diagnosed with MS and how did you feel after being diagnosed?
Andrea’s run-in with breast cancer and subsequent issues with auto-immune diseases taught us how to become our own advocates which ultimately helped get me diagnosed.
I feel lucky that the imaging center I went to used Lesion Quant by Cortechs so that we could get a detailed image and analysis of lesions. Having the most accurate scan helped my doctors and I truly see what we were dealing with and it gave me the confidence to accept my diagnosis much faster than if we didn’t have a clear picture.
That being said I still felt incredibly shocked and we had a TON of questions. Will I be disabled? Will my son get MS? Will I get to ride my bike ever again? Will I need constant care? Will the cost of medicine put us in debt?
I don’t want to take all of the credit for Cliff finally getting diagnosed with MS, but it was me who put all of the pieces together and demanded he see a neurologist and get an MRI.
How did I feel? Pure devastation with a dash of relief. Knowing what to call this monster was relieving but looking into the future was terrifying. We had so many questions and not a lot of good answers. Luckily we have an amazing family and circle of friends who swooped in to care for us as we dug into planning Cliff’s treatment.
How did you decide on your treatment?
First and foremost, I wanted to make sure I was under the care of the best MS doctors. With their guidance and a whole lot of sleepless nights, we narrowed it down to two options – Lemtrada and Ocrevus.
SO MUCH RESEARCH! We attempted to really dig into the grey areas of the disease and find some clarity, so that we could make informed decisions. We made sure that Cliff’s MRI’s were done with the best technology and that’s how we found Cortechs.ai who provides the best analysis and tracking of lesions. We talked to anyone and everyone who is involved in MS treatment, research and diagnostics.
While a huge part of us wanted to run away and hope a good diet and exercise would stave off disability, we knew that pumping the brakes would only be possible with disease-modifying therapy. We landed on Ocrevus because of the reviews, research and minimal risks compared to Lemtrada.
What do you do to remain hopeful and active in the MS Community?
We are absolutely blown away by the incredible MS community in Austin. We have regular meetings and we also recently participated in the Walk for MS. It seems that over the last few years MS patients are getting more access to innovative medicines and diagnostics that were completely inaccessible. Simply knowing that I can go into my local imaging center and get a scan that gives us a clear picture of my disease and is driven off of artificial intelligence makes me feel empowered and in control of my journey with MS.
I have to say I’m incredibly impressed by the way doctors, researchers, diagnostic and drug companies are wrapping their arms around better ways to diagnose, treat and ultimately cure MS. This has given us an incredible amount of hope for Cliff and for others struggling with MS.