port of harlem magazine
Theo Hodge, Jr. M.D.
Multiple Sclerosis Has Been my Blessing
Jul 28 – Aug 10, 2022
The Middle Passage

kori walker

My name is Kori. I am 39-years-old, from Indiana, and living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

Before you even get that thought out: “I’m so sorry to hear that.” STOP!  Multiple Sclerosis has been my blessing. 

It sounds crazy to say that about a condition that has no cure and brings so much pain and turbulence into people’s lives, but I would not be the woman I am today if God had not given me this journey. I have learned so much about myself mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially.

Mentally, I initially thought I was strong and handled my issues well, but I learned to accept therapy to help me deal with all the changes in my life.

Physically, I had to come to terms that I couldn't do all the same activities that I was used to; so I became creative and learned new activities. I also gained an appreciation for the things that I still could do.

Spiritually, the one thing that I had do hold on to is faith. It has made the ride smoother.

Emotionally, I lost people in my life that couldn't handle the issues in which I was dealing. I took it personally, and I learned who had my back and who I needed to let go.

Financially, it took me 28 months to get approved for disability. Thank God for parents and family who gave selflessly so that I didn't have to hit rock bottom. I am now so much better with managing money. While there are medications and therapies to slow the progression of the disease, the cure is still a work in progress. Currently, I take 20 pills a day and a Tysabri infusion once a month to keep my symptoms under control.
It was then, in 2008, that I started to notice numbness and heaviness in my feet. I was on my feet 12 hours a day; so, I blew it off. 
MS is a crazy disease. It causes the immune system to eat the protective covering of the nerves, causing a disruption in the communication between the brain and the body. This causes a variety of issues including pain, impaired coordination, vision loss, mobility issues, and fatigue. However, each person’s experience with the disease is very different. 

I was 25 and working as a surgical technologist at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis when MS made its visit to me. It was then, in 2008, that I started to notice numbness and heaviness in my feet. I was on my feet 12 hours a day; so, I blew it off. 

Over the next few weeks, that same feeling started to move up my legs. I saw my primary care doctor, who referred me to a neurologist.  While waiting for that appointment, two things happened. First, that numb, heavy feeling moved up to my belly button and I could no longer feel when I had to go to the restroom. I started going to the restroom on a schedule, which brings me to the second thing that happened. One night, my alarm went off in the middle of night to alert me that it was time to use the restroom, but I could not move.

Everything from my waist down was lifeless. Somehow, I fell back to sleep. I woke at 7am, stood straight up, and drove myself to the emergency room.  I spent the next seven days in the hospital having MRIs and spinal taps. I was diagnosed with MS on my third day, June 9, 2008, a day I now celebrate every year. Subsequently, I was off work for eight months and using a cane. I was taking medication (Rebif) that helped for the first few years, but my body slowly got immune to it.

I did return to working in surgery using my cane to walk and stand. However, working that job with MS became too much and the doctor told me I had to choose my health over the career I loved. I tried a sit-down job, but that was short lived.

In January 2014, I woke up and could not move anything from my neck down. Bedridden for four months, it was the longest four months of my life. However, it gave me four months to do a lot of thinking. I was praying every day, “Lord, I can deal with the numbness, but just please let me walk again.” 
The doctors suggested I start aquatic physical therapy. The water became my home and the pool became the only place where I felt human.
My prayers were answered. In April 2014, I got movement back, no feeling, but I was moving. However, my body felt like a ton of bricks.

The doctors suggested I start aquatic physical therapy. The water became my home and the pool became the only place where I felt human. By the time they discharged me from aquatic therapy, I had been in a wheelchair, on a walker, and back to a cane. 

I regained feeling in my left arm and torso, but the majority of my body was still numb. In 2017, I went to a Power and Love conference in Pennsylvania. Pastor Todd White was praying over the congregation and as he was praying, I could feel the restoration of feeling in my body. 

I know there was restoration because I ran around that church. I hadn’t run in years.

When I returned to the hotel, I took a shower and all I could do was curl up in the tub and cry. I hadn’t felt water, nor its temperature on my lower legs and feet since 2008. I truly believe that night, April 20, 2017, God gave me a gift and I vowed to never take advantage of the little things, time with the ones I love, and the ability to walk again. 

I still have those cry moments when I feel something or do something I haven’t done in years due to MS. I still have a bunch of little issues, but they don’t compare to what I have already been through. When I am asked, “Why are you so happy? Why are you so positive?”  My answer: I woke up this morning, stepped out of bed, felt the carpet between my toes, and walked.
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