MAKING MEANING WITH MS
Featured in Healing MS, Spring 2018
Chris Kaklamanakis has been a patient at the IMSMP since 2006. He has worked closely with Dr. Armistead Williams, our PT department, and Dr. Bates throughout the years. In this edition of, “Making Meaning in Your Life with an MS Diagnosis,” Chris shares how, although he struggles at times, he lives life to the fullest with MS.
“I first began experiencing symptoms of MS at the beginning of 2006. This included leg weakness, foot drop, hand weakness, and at least half a dozen more. It was all very sudden and it had come out of nowhere. I really didn’t know what to make of it. Then one night I got out of bed and fell on the floor. I couldn’t get up on my own, I needed assistance. The next day I saw my family doctor. He sent me for an MRI and that night I ended up at Roosevelt Hospital where I spent 12 days and first met Dr. Armistead Williams. I was 39 years old and had never experienced any of these symptoms before, this was all very new and scary.
My first five years with MS were very difficult, I went through five different treatments and nothing worked. Two years after my diagnosis I began using a cane, and after four years, a wheelchair. I was sick and unhealthy, spending most of my days at home, isolating myself. I didn’t have the strength or desire to do anything meaningful. I was a mess. Things were not looking good for me and I didn’t expect them to get any better but much to my surprise, they did.
In 2011 things began looking up for me. I started Rituxan and saw Dr. Deneb Bates for my first naturopathic consult. Dr. Bates guided me towards a healthy lifestyle for which I am eternally grateful for. While taking Rituxan and making dietary and exercise changes, I found myself feeling pretty good most of the time. I truly felt blessed, as if I was given the opportunity to start over. I joined a gym, started swimming, and began driving again after not being behind the wheel for five years. I also went back to work, selling appliances at Home Depot and I enjoy it.
Exercise, diet, and treatment, have allowed me to live an almost normal life. All these changes did not start immediately, they took time and a lot of hard work, just like anything else that is worthwhile. I still have some bad days, but now I have more good ones. At 51 years of age, this is not where I expected to be but I’m thankful for where I am. I’m working, driving, living, and I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. Thank you to Dr. Bates, Dr. Williams, Dr. Kanter, and Dr. Woods, I am where I am today because of them.”