Karen McConaughey - 2000

I started seeing a neurologist in 1998 when I was experiencing dizziness.  The doctor could not find anything wrong with me and prescribed anti-anxiety medication.  My dizziness ceased.

In February 2000, I was experiencing double vision when I looked in all direction except straight ahead.  I also had nystagmus (eyes look involuntarily from side to side in a rapid, swinging motion).  I knew what I had before I went back to the doctor. After an MRI and a lumbar puncture, the doctor confirmed that I had MS.

I started Avonex in 2001.  In the spring of 2003, I got laid off and my symptoms got worse.  My doctor changed my medication to Rebif.  I took that for three months, but I had to switch back to Avonex after having an allergic reaction to Rebif.  In March 2004, I stopped taking any disease-modifying therapies.

Today, my symptoms are double vision when I look up and down, difficulty walking, difficulty using my right hand, weakness with my left arm and numbness in my left hand.  I'm right-handed and now I use my left hand for just about everything.  I haven't been able to run since 2002.  I sometimes have to use a cane when walking a long distance.  These issues have not changed since 2003.  I have had only one negative symptom since April 2007---my bladder.

I've been volunteering for the BP MS 150 since 2002.  My two sisters have been riding in various MS rides since.  In 2008, I actually volunteered in LaGrange.  I saw how much fun everyone was having and decided that I would ride the next year.  In September 2008, I purchased a tadpol recumbent trike.

I then signed up for my first MS 150 in April 2009.  However, it rained out the day I was supposed to ride.  That didn't stop me.  I only ride 30 to 40 miles each weekend.  I actually rode 52 miles during this year's BP MS 150.  I only rode on Saturday and drove to Austin on Sunday.  The heat does affect me so I stopped cycling for the summer.

I've had a positive outlook on my diagnosis.  I plan to live until I'm at least 98 years old.  I work out 2 times per week---once a week with a trainer.  I cycle when the weather permits.  I hope they find a cure in my life-time or reverse my symptoms.  I will not let MS defeat me.  My favorite saying is "It's how you live life that matters."  That's really how I feel.