Jodi Lang’s life changed on Dec. 21, 2009. She woke up that morning and started to get ready for work as she had for the past 17 years when her legs gave out. She forced her way into the shower and finished getting ready, and using a cane she found at home, she went to work.
At that point, she couldn’t walk at all. She called her general practitioner, who told her to come in, and after meeting her in the hallway, he told her to go to the hospital right away. They did an MRI and a lumbar puncture, and then on Dec. 24, 2009, Jodi got the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
“I was shell-shocked,” Jodi said. “I couldn’t even spell it and didn’t know what it was.”
On top of her MS diagnosis, there was a huge snowstorm, so Christmas was basically canceled, Jodi said. She was bedridden and still couldn’t walk. It wasn’t until after getting steroid treatments and going to physical therapy that she was mobile again.
After regaining her mobility, she focused on next steps. “They kept asking me, ‘what do you want to do,’ and I had no clue,” Jodi said. But eventually she decided on Copaxone, a shot she would have to give herself daily.
Jodi said she went through many emotions after her diagnosis, which changed her life in many ways. “I was trying to live, but I was in denial, depressed, mad, I bawled, everything.”
Now, she tries not to let her MS get her down, because she enjoys too many things. “I take it one day at a time,” she said. MS is full of challenges, but Jodi has great support from her family, including her parents, twin sister, fiancé, two children and three stepchildren. “I couldn’t make it without them,” she said.
One of these challenges is that MS is a blind disease. “People look at you and don’t think anything is wrong,” she said. But Jodi said she is numb from the stomach down, and while no new lesions have formed since her initial diagnosis, she did become immune to the first therapy she was on, Copaxone. She now gets an infusion once every 28 days instead of a daily injection, and she said it is working awesome after 18 infusions.
In addition to the support she receives from her family, Jodi also finds support from others who also have MS. She is involved with the Grand Island support group sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mid America Chapter (a member charity of Community Health Charities of Nebraska). The group has educational events, such as speakers and seminars, and they also raise money through events, including the annual MS walk, which Jodi has helped chair.
Jodi said she is excited to see what’s coming in terms of the research and treatments available, as they work wonders, and 20-30 years ago, there were no therapies to help with MS. She is hopeful that someday there will be a cure, maybe even in her lifetime.
For those who have just been diagnosed with MS, Jodi urges them to ask questions. “If you don’t understand something, make them explain it to you so you do.” She also encourages those who think they can’t afford medication—which can cost up to $10,000 a month without insurance—to reach out to drug companies, as many have financial programs that can make these therapies affordable.
But even with the therapies available and the hope of a cure, Jodi says it’s scary not knowing what’s ahead. “I don’t know if in an hour I’ll be able to walk or not, or if I’ll end up in a wheelchair.”
However, she continues to focus on the day to day and spending time with her family. “This had made me a stronger person, and I refuse to let it get me down. I have kids to raise, and I love life.”