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  • Anne Marie Peel was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August 2011, but she had been experiencing symptoms long before. Now, she is finding ways of fighting back against the disease.
    Photo Provided
    Anne Marie Peel was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August 2011, but she had been experiencing symptoms long before. Now, she is finding ways of fighting back against the disease.
  • Anne Marie Peel was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August 2011, but she had been experiencing symptoms long before. Now, she is finding ways of fighting back against the disease.
    Photo Provided
    Anne Marie Peel was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August 2011, but she had been experiencing symptoms long before. Now, she is finding ways of fighting back against the disease.

A Day In The Life: Anne Marie Peel Fights MS

Maya Pottiger
Maya Pottiger's picture
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February 6, 2018

After six years of doctor’s appointments, Anne Marie Peel finally got her diagnosis: multiple sclerosis.

“It often takes a long time to diagnose an MS patient because it’s not a clear-cut diagnosis; it’s a diagnosis by ruling other things out,” Peel said. “If it looks like MS and you’ve ruled everything else out, then they say it’s MS.”

Peel said she first went to the doctor after experiencing numbness that started in her left foot, went up her left leg and stopped near her ribcage. The numbness lasted a few months before fading away, Peel said.

It was a while before Peel started having other symptoms, but even then, it took the doctors several tests to nail down their diagnosis.

Peel went through MRIs, a lumbar puncture and other tests to figure out what was causing her symptoms. As there isn’t one test that determines MS, doctors look for a number of indicators, Peel said.

“They look at your symptoms and they see if you have these other indicators, like lesions on the brain or spinal cord and the immunity markers in your cervical fluid,” Peel said. “If you have those and everything fits, they say, ‘Well it looks like MS, we’re going to call it MS.’”

During the process, Peel said she felt a lot of frustration and anxiety.

“There were many diseases it could’ve been that were worse,” Peel said. “It was frustrating, and there was definitely anxiety just not knowing that the diagnosis was going to be or why my symptoms kept coming and going.”

After her August 2011 diagnosis, Peel said she was in denial about her condition.

“I tried to convince myself I could just keep living my life the way I had been, that it wasn’t going to change me,” she said.

Since then, multiple sclerosis has affected different parts of Peel’s daily routine. It takes her twice as long to get ready in the morning, Peel said, but her employers at G&G Outfitters have been accommodating in allowing her to work flex hours. The disease is very fatiguing, so Peel said she doesn’t have the “strength, stamina or balance” to cook and clean when she gets home. Where she used to be able to use a cane to keep her balance, Peel now uses a walker.

However, Peel is combating her symptoms through physical therapy and nutrition.

Working with Cypress Creek Therapy, Peel did land and water physical therapy multiple times a week, using the therapy pool at the Severna Park Community Center.

“I had been going three times a week and was making great progress, really seeing benefits to the physical therapy, both in the office and in the pool,” Peel said. “I’m currently taking a break from going to PT, but I am really looking forward to getting back to working with the therapists.”

As for nutrition, Peel has been researching a diet called the Wahls Protocol.

“There’s a lot of information online that cites very specific diets for MS and other autoimmune diseases,” Peel said. “They are essentially a paleo-type diet, but even more specific, some of them are very specific in the nutrients and the quantities you should be eating on a daily basis.”

Most recently in her fight against the disease, Peel attended her first MS support group. After reaching out to the National MS Society, Peel received a welcome kit and information about support groups in her area. She found one that meets at the Severna Park Library and reached out to the coordinator.

The group is called MS H.O.P.E., which stands for "Healing, Openness, Positivity, Encouragement." There were about eight people in attendance, Peel said.

"My biggest takeaway is that this disease affects men and women of various age and race, and each one of us has a different experience," Peel said. “But sharing our experiences can both comfort and help others."

Peel said she recommends the group for information and support, and plans to go again. Those interested in attending can contact mshope.aaco@gmail.com or call 443-906-3836.

Above all, Peel said she wants people to know that MS affects every individual differently.

“We’re still ourselves,” Peel said. “We have to stop and accept a new pace of life, but we can still enjoy almost everything we did before.”


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