Hello, my name is Wanda Bates and I’m from Sheffield, Alabama. My story began 10 years ago. I had started coughing quite badly one day and feeling fatigued and weak. My symptoms started effecting my job, causing me to miss work, so, I decided to go to the doctors.
After seeing numerous doctors, the neurologist sent me to a specialized unit. The doctors ran tests and biopsies, discovering that I had Primary Lateral Sclerosis, a type of Motor Neuron Disease, I was also diagnosed with Polymyositis, another muscle disease. Both diseases cause muscle nerve cells to slowly break down. The diagnosis was, at first, very tough. I was dealing with the loss of my job and financial problems, and now a diagnosis of a disease that will continue to get worse for the rest of my life. I was numb, yet relieved to finally know what was wrong with me.
The disease has caused my bowel to stop functioning properly. I’ve had seven operations on my bowel resulting in a permanent ileostomy, which I’ve had for 6 years. I have recently had my rectum removed, and found this surgery very tough. The seriousness of the surgery resulted in needing 13 units of blood, and I was in Intensive Care Unit for one week. The disease has also effected the function of my bladder, my tongue and jaw muscles have become weak and somedays they hurt so bad that eating becomes a problem. I suffer from muscle weakness and cramps and somedays my limbs become numb, I fall over a lot. I am on countless medication to help with: pain, muscle weakness, the thyroid, hormones, cholesterol, depression, digestion and anxiety. I take around 20 tablets daily, they are becoming harder to swallow due to a weak gag reflex and muscle deterioration.
It has been a rough 10 years of never knowing if my condition is going to take a turn for the worse. I get scared of losing control of my own body because there are days were it is hard to move with stiffness and pain in my legs and arms. I try and stay as active and positive as possible. I believe in mind over matter, and I am not a quitter. I have a great husband, children and grandchildren to live for. It is a blessing that I am still here to spend time with them.
I know that there are people worse off than I am and I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for me. Maybe it’s to inspire others to be strong.
I would say to other suffering similarly to have hope and to not give up! Thanks for reading my story.