Fayetteville, Ark. — While other teenagers were hopping on planes to spring break or visiting potential universities they would like to attend, Channing Barker was traveling to New York to get a diagnosis that would change her life.
It all started one day when she couldn’t feel the right side of her body.
“I didn’t know what to think. When you all of a sudden can’t feel parts of your body or you can’t walk straight or you balance is completely off when it’s all I’ve known for 16 years of my life,” Barker said.
She was in and out of hospitals. They gave her several diagnoses before they identified the true cause of the problem.
“When the doctors finally told me I had MS I was actually so excited because I’d been walking around barely walking,” Barker said.
Multiple Sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. The disease, also called MS, is chronic and causes the immune system to eat away the protective covering of the nerves. According to experts, MS is the most common disabling neurological disorder for young adults. There are many unpredictable symptoms – some people have experienced things like overwhelming fatigue, numbness in some of parts of their body, blurry vision and more.
But the disease has not stopped Barker from living her life to the fullest.
“It’s not going to stop me from pursing me dreams, if anything you know make me work harder and it did just that. It’s opened so many doors for me that I didn’t know that were possible,” Barker said.
According to experts, there is not a clear answer as to why MS developed. Each person afflicted with the disease can experience different symptoms. Experts say it depends on which parts of the brain or spinal cord are getting damaged.
“You lose some function some ability that you normally have in the healthy body,” Barker said.
Most MS symptoms appear in patients as late teenagers or young adults, Mercy Clinic Neurology and Sleep Medicine Dr. Dimitry A. Fomin said.
He said that even though MS is considered a chronic disease with no cure yet, treatment can help slow down the progress of the disorder. Some of the treatments helped Barker. She said she would like to live in a world-free of MS.
“If I let this disease take whole of me and just let it attack me I wouldn’t be sitting on this couch today. I wouldn’t have to ridiculous dog… But I also wouldn’t have the wonderful friendships that I’ve had. The openness and the vulnerable that’s come into my life because I’ve been able to share this,” Barker said.
According to experts, the life expectancy for a person with Multiple Sclerosis has increased due to the advancement in medicine. The disease is not contagious.