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  • Jenna Beall

Are you MS'ing with me?

It was 3:45 on a Friday, and my coworkers and I were wound-up. It’s how always we get those final moments of the workweek, excitedly discussing Saturday plans or a new Alison Roman recipe we plan on trying that evening. It suddenly feels like all of our work-related worries can wait until Monday morning.


There is a meme out there that shows an office worker tossing his papers into the air with wild abandon. “Friday” is written across the bottom. The image beside it shows the same employee gathering his papers in defeat that following Monday morning.


That meme makes us feel seen.


I grabbed my phone—surely to look up a funny photo of my dogs or perhaps show off a recent online purchase—and instead saw a voicemail from my doctor’s office.


Oh my God, I thought. This is just like that Regina Spektor song.


Do you know the one I’m talking about? It’s called “Laughing With” and includes this line, “No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests.”


I’d had a routine test that morning.


My doctor had requested I schedule an MRI following a severe cluster headache, but I hadn’t been expecting this call. I had been expecting a MyChart message saying that everything was fine, that I was just cursed to this sort of migraine-filled life as I’d been told countless times before.


I took my phone and ducked into a privacy booth to call Dr. Hartig back. I have no idea why I didn’t just gather my things and call from the safety of my Corolla. “Hi. This is Jenna Beall Mueller. I was just, um, returning Dr. Hartig’s call?” I stammered.


“Of course. One moment,” the receptionist said, without a moment’s pause or request for further clarification.


“Jenna, hi.” I know my doctor well enough to know when something is wrong. He started off with the good news, talking about all the abnormalities they hadn’t seen, yet I still felt myself waiting for the “but."


I didn’t have a brain tumor.


But there was a good chance I had multiple sclerosis.


“Are you okay?” he asked.


“Yeah! Absolutely,” I said, deferring to my people-pleasing nature. God forbid I actually show the sinking feeling in my stomach or the tightness of my throat. “There are way worse things to show up on an MRI, right?”


Cue awkward laughter (my doctor did not join in).


Instead, he referred me to a neurologist and asked that I keep him posted.


Well, as it turns out, I do have multiple sclerosis.


That first MRI showed lesions in two separate areas of my brain. I had a second MRI—this time on my neck and spine—and no lesions were found there, which is wonderful news.


Speaking of the bright side, my MS was caught very early. And it explains a lot of the uncomfortable symptoms I've been experiencing this year, from extreme fatigue to items suddenly dropping from my hands. I have an incredible neurologist, and we're well on our way to determining my best treatment plan.


I write this blog post because there's really no easy way to talk about this news. It's very overwhelming to learn you have a chronic disease. It gets pretty scary, too, when I let myself fall down the "worst possible scenarios" rabbit hole.


But for now I'm doing okay.


I've been overwhelmed (in a good way!) by all of the kind notes and encouragement this past month, and I know I'm extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such a stellar support system.


Most of all, I'm ready to start feeling more like myself again.


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