Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

Teacher who woke up with blurred eyesight opens up on MS diagnosis

An Australian teacher saw a holiday of a lifetime to Europe turn into a life-changing experience after she lost vision in one eye while travelling in the Mediterranean.

Elise Osmand was island hopping around Greece and enjoying fine dining in Italy when she suddenly lost most of her vision in one eye.

The 28-year-old was then given a diagnosis by Greek doctors which she compared to a "death sentence" when her symptoms worsened.

At first, Elise found her vision in her right eye was impaired – she could see the bottom half of her vision in her right eye, but the top half was "blurred to a dark brown", leaving her feeling like she had make-up smudged on her iris.

Dismissing the symptoms as jet lag, she waited another 24 hours to arrive in Athens before seeking medical attention.

It was by this point the Aussie national had lost vision completely in her right eye.

Meeting with a doctor in hospital, medics struggled to figure out what was wrong – with each diagnosis bringing Elise fresh panic.

Opening up to news.com.au, she explained: "He said very straight up it might be a brain tumour.

"Then the next thing he said was … 'you don’t have a brain tumour … but it could be cancer'. That’s when things freaked me out."

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After further examination, doctors determined that while it was neither a tumour nor cancer, the cause of the blurred vision was a life-changing medical condition.

Elise said: "He said after further investigation that I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) … and the only thing I knew about that was a wheelchair.

"At first I got upset about it … it was a really confronting moment. It felt like my world had come crumbling down … a death sentence."

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system which causes the body to attack itself, with the immune system damaging nerves, leading to symptoms including extreme fatigue, vision problems, and muscle stiffness and spasms, among others.

Following the diagnosis, Elise has seen her life completely change.

She said: "Since my diagnosis in 2019, this has been a huge change to my life," she explained.

"I moved to the Gold Coast to be closer to the beach [and] on a treatment that works."

She went on: "I have always been very active and would do a lot of exercise. Now, while it’s still really good for me to do, it can trigger symptoms and drain me to a point I can’t recover from. So I have to stay hydrated and cool."

Elise is now using social media – including her Instagram page – to raise awareness about the disease.

MS is a lifelong condition but symptoms can be managed with treatment.

While average life expectancy is slightly reduced for people suffering from MS, there are various treatments for the various versions of the disease.

There is no known cure for the disease at this time, and the NHS advise that the disease is "challenging" to live with – but advancements in medical science over the past 20 years have "considerably improved the quality of life" of people with the condition.

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