I will never forget the words spoken to me on that frigid morning on December 26, 2007. On the day after Christmas I heard, “You have MS, Trey.” In an instant my whole world changed. I vividly recall the fear, anxiety, and sadness in my mother’s eyes upon hearing the news from my doctor. While the doctor was explaining everything I just kept thinking there is no way that, at 22, I could have such a potentially disabling condition. It was too much for me to bear as I had to excuse myself from the room and went outside to cry.
While outside, I remember pleading with God and asking, “Why me?” My faith in God has been a huge part of my life, so when this happened I went to Him from the beginning with my questions and endless fears. I also began reflecting on everything that had transpired in the prior year leading up to this dreadful day. My first thought went back to when I was in Florida and the day I woke up with numbness in my right hand. All the memories of having to explain that something was wrong with me came back tenfold. I clearly remember how no one believed me, understandably so because of the mystery behind MS. They had said it was all in my head and that it would all resolve itself in time.
The next thought was how to deal with the new symptoms that were beginning to arise after my diagnosis. I began experiencing visual difficulties, balance issues, fatigue, numbness in my legs from the calf down, tingling in my feet and sensitivity to heat.
My last thought was how in the world I was going to face this monster called MS head on and win. I have never quit in the past and, in my mind, this time was no different. My neurologist at the time got me started on Copaxone a few days after my diagnosis, and in a few months I began to see improvements with many of my symptoms. I thank her for choosing the right medicine from the start because I didn’t want to take the others and experience all those terrible side effects! I feared the daily shot for the first week, but eventually came to the conclusion that it’s not that bad. Sure it stings a little, but being proactive about my treatment was a much better option than sitting on the sidelines and letting MS run its course. Now, I have gotten used to the shot and it’s part of my daily routine.
From the day of diagnosis forward, I started living a life filled with many questions and one that was much more unpredictable. It’s much harder to gauge what is going to happen to me next, but I have come to realize even people that don’t have an illness don’t know what’s going to happen to them next, either! So it’s actually not that big of a deal.
Although MS has been hard to accept and deal with, to say the least, it has also changed my perspective on life. I have been given an eye-opening second chance to fully live. I consider MS to be a curse at times, but a huge blessing, too. From a diagnosis that I feared would end all of my dreams, something else has taken form. With the help of God; strong family and friend support; a positive attitude; an improved diet; my wonderful doctor, Ben Thrower, at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia; and his wonderful team have given me the perfect support system to combat this illness head on and win! These factors have helped to shape a new and better Trey.
When diagnosed I had quit singing and playing a guitar because it was much harder because of numbness, and I was afraid of losing my ability altogether. The wonderful news, though, is that I am back playing and singing again! The doors have been opening to play many places, and now I am playing more than ever.
A dream that on December 26, 2007, I thought may be shattered has instead begun to blossom two and a half years later. Now at 25, because I stepped out and took a chance even with MS, I have been blessed to meet country singer/superstar Clay Walker and actually got to open for him in Atlanta with a friend and fellow singer. I have also had the opportunity to play at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for people with spinal cord injuries and people with MS in the IV rooms. Most recently, I have played a cancer benefit concert and at different MS clinics around Georgia.
Now I am ready to help impact the world with my story, face and personality. Conquering MS and giving people hope has been a goal of mine since the day I was diagnosed. There is nothing more amazing to me than seeing someone smile and turning a hopeless situation into one of promise. I want to help people, especially young adults who are newly diagnosed, to realize life doesn’t have to be over. I want to help them see the bigger picture and know that there is so much more for them than MS. As for me, I am going to keep pressing forward and believe that anything is possible if I put my mind to it. A good friend of mine always told me, “Live in your dreams, Trey.” It’s funny how it took MS to help me do just that.