CAPE CORAL, FLA — Patients who receive the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis say, it's a life changing moment. A Fort Myers woman, Elana Combs, is no exception. Combs was diagnosed with MS in 2013, when she was a senior in high school.Usually one to jump out of bed every morning, she remembers, "I was the one sleeping in. Really tired. I didn't want to get up. I had numbness in my hands and arms."
Dr. Gene Mahaney at Pain Management Consultants told FOX 4 the cause of MS is still unknown. He says, "Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the body's auto immune system attacks its own nervous system, causing plaques which can cause all kinds of neurological dysfunctions." He says symptoms range from debilitating pain to cognitive issues.
Combs experiences the latter. She says, "Most of the symptoms I noticed were dizziness, a little bit of fatigue." She remembers feeling a sense of denial at first. She says, "My senior year. I didn't want to be diagnosed with a disease." She says what got her through was the support of her mom and sister. She says, "It might have not been the same physical pain, or having numbness and dizzy spells and walking into walls, but they felt that pain with me emotionally."
Only a few months ago, Combs revealed her illness to her co-workers at Suncoast Credit Union. While helping out a customer, her back went numb. Dr. Mahaney explains, "Almost feels like someone is gripping you tightly. And, that is often a sign of a plaque that attacks part of the spine."
Since her moment of truth, she says she's had nothing but support from her work family. She says, "They told me, 'Hey you gotta let us know these things. We're a family and we gotta support each other.'"
Suncoast is one of this year's sponsors for MS Walk Estero and Elana is expecting to have a big team. She says, "I feel like I've been given this illness for a reason. And I need to empower it and share the knowledge." Fox 4 is also a proud sponsor of MS Walk Estero on March 9. To sign up or for more information, click here.