There is nothing that easily identifies Deb Vollrath as a MS patient. Living with that is, she says, one of the biggest frustrations with the disease. “Looking at me, I look fine. But I'm not. I can feel great one day and can’t get out of bed the next.”
In early 2008 Vollraith suffered an extreme headache, dizziness and vision loss while travelling for work. Initially diagnosed with a migraine, it was not long before she couldn't get out of bed. She went to the University of Alberta Hospital emergency department where Dr. Chris Power, Director of the MS Centre, was on duty and admitted her right away.
Within a year Vollrath had to stop working completely. “There were changes in how I could do my job – memory loss, word-finding issues, and I was always very tired,” she says. A second attack, in November 2008, caused temporary blindness in her left eye. Re-admitted to the UAlberta Hospital, she was officially diagnosed with MS.
Vollrath is now on long-term disability, off work from her rewarding and successful career as a pharmaceutical rep. She’s also a busy mom with two young children, and finds the unpredictability and the uncertainty that come with MS draining. “It’s frustrating to plan activities and then have to cancel at the last minute, depending on how I'm doing,” she says.
Keeping her spirits up is another battle as well – Vollrath is working with a psychologist and volunteers in her local community as much as possible. “You have to stay positive, because MS can really get you down. It’s chronic, and it’s not going to go away.”
“I am in good hands with the University of Alberta,” Vollrath says. “Working with Dr. Power and his team gives me hope.”