I was a 26-year-old working in the Pentagon in the Navy Executive Dining Facility. I was Active Duty Navy for almost 8 years. October 18, 2017, I had a colonoscopy because I was losing weight, bowels had blood and mucus coming out. After, that I started having tingling in my thighs and few fingers. I ignored it because I assumed it was a side effect.
Now being in the military I had a structured and tight schedule. It was a normal Friday report to work, morning meeting, cook, clean, ran 2 miles, shower and pack my bag. Little did I know that will be my last time running two miles and enjoying my weekend. I went surprised my best friend at her baby shower. My life changed when I was on my way home. My fingers were tingling and slowly I couldn’t feel them.
Once I arrived back home, I went to the Emergency Room. 1st visit I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel. As the week progressed, my body became weaker. Again, I went to the Emergency Room but, this time I had to take an Uber. I had to be escorted in a wheelchair. I cried all night because of agony and same result. The doctor couldn’t find nothing and sent me home with medication. I knew something was wrong because I wasn’t the typical me. I couldn’t eat, everyday hygiene and clean up my room. Finally, I Siri my cousins. (Thank God) I called them, and I need to go to the military hospital ASAP. As I attempted to get dressed, I fell off the bed and couldn’t feel any part of the body from the neck down.
When I arrived at Walter Reed Military Hospital located in the DMV area, I was admitted in immediately. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica on November 2, 2017. Due to my condition, I had to move out of my apartment in DC. Also, relocated to my hometown in Louisville, Kentucky for inpatient rehab. While I was at Frazier Rehabilitation, I notice both my legs were losing the mobility. In addition, I had to get an MRI. Based on the results I was rushed to the University of Louisville Hospital to start Cytoxan (chemotherapy), IVIG, and Plasma. This decision was difficult because I lost my independence and reschedule my goals. I anticipated to graduate and re-enlist January 5, 2018. However, I needed the support from my family. Through the strength of Jesus Christ, I was able to complete my last two classes online.
In April 2018, I medically retired from the Navy. May 2018, God blessed me with my Bachelor of Arts and released from the hospital. My 1st phase of NMO was from October 2017 until May 2018. In September 2018, AQP-4 is present again. Yes, the lab results state “AQP-4 is positive” but “God say AQP-4 is negative and Arlena is still breathing.” I can complete occupational therapy and write. Currently, I am unable to walk.
I do not know how long it will take me to walk again. Faith is about patience. God will finish what he started in you.”