“Awwwwwww. . . sweetheart,” was my response, as I placed my left hand on my chest and absorbed the news I had just read. The whole of last week, I had this young lady on my mind and almost felt like I should go searching for her to find out what she was up to. However, I know that when I have someone on my mind where I can’t shake them off, it usually means I will either hear from them or about them, soon. So I waited thinking soon I will hear she has dropped a new song, an upcoming album etc. Instead, I am greeted with news that Zaragretti aka Zara, one of my favorite emerging artists in the industry, is battling with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The disease has left her blind in her left eye, and she has double vision in her right eye. She is also experiencing tremors and there is talk of undergoing chemotherapy.
Folks, stop for a minute. AML people, life is so weird isn’t it? One minute you could be going one direction and all seems fine and the next, life throws you one of those hard curveballs that reminds you that you are in control of nothing. Zara is so vibrant and so full of life.
I am humbled by this news. I actually wrote a lengthy post sharing how I met Zara, my own personal experience volunteering for the MS society as a legislative advocate for almost six years, in Sacramento, thanks to one of my Personal Trainer Clients who had MS, asked for my support and introduced me to the organization. I wrote this post and I inadvertently deleted it.
So, I will just keep it short by saying:
First, major bravo/kudos to Zara for having the courage to share her illness with the world. This is particularly significant since she is African. There is such deep stigma associated with any kind of health issues members of our African communities within and outside the continent face. We are, for the most part, uninformed and usually isolate, ridicule and dish out harsh responses to those who really need our help. So, to see Zara boldly share her situation with the world is amazing and encouraging.
Second, if you have MS, or any illness/disease for that matter, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Join a network of people who can provide you with the resources and emotional support you need. For the MS society, please visit their website (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx). I have done advocacy work for the organization in Sacramento and Washington D.C. and they are a powerful non-profit with ample resources to help anyone going through MS or at least point them to the right direction, including healthcare providers.
Third, Zara all is well. I will join the community of prayer warriors out there and keep you in my prayers. I hope a friend or relative reads this. Please reach out ([email protected]) and I will be glad to share my resources and connect you with persons within the MS organization that can guide you through this very difficult time in your life.
“Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects women more than men. The disorder is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age.
MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop.
The nerve damage is caused by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the body’s own immune cells attack the nervous system. This can occur along any area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord.
It is unknown what exactly causes this to happen. The most common thought is that a virus or gene defect, or both, are to blame. Environmental factors may play a role.
You are slightly more likely to get this condition if you have a family history of MS or live in an part of the world where MS is more common.
Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or months. These episodes alternate with periods of reduced or no symptoms (remissions).
Fever, hot baths, sun exposure, and stress can trigger or worsen attacks.
It is common for the disease to return (relapse). However, the disease may continue to get worse without periods of remission.
Because nerves in any part of the brain or spinal cord may be damaged, patients with multiple sclerosis can have symptoms in many parts of the body.
Loss of balance
Numbness or abnormal sensation in any area
Problems moving arms or legs
Problems with coordination and making small movements
Tremor in one or more arms or legs
Weakness in one or more arms or legs
Bowel and bladder symptoms:
Constipation and stool leakage
Difficulty beginning to urinate
Frequent need to urinate
Strong urge to urinate
Urine leakage (incontinence)
Uncontrollable rapid eye movements
Vision loss (usually affects one eye at a time)
Numbness, tingling, or pain
Painful muscle spasms
Tingling, crawling, or burning feeling in the arms and legs
Other brain and nerve symptoms:
Decreased attention span, poor judgment, and memory loss
Difficulty reasoning and solving problems
Depression or feelings of sadness
Dizziness and balance problems
Hearing loss . . .” PubMed Health