The month of August is known as ‘August Orange’ as it is the month to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis and the 30th is dedicated especially to this message. Priscila Sandmann Oliveira, 31, was born in São Paulo and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a year ago. She is monitoring the disease with a neurologist from Santos, on the coast of São Paulo, and in an interview with G1, told how he received the news and how the treatment process has developed until today.
Priscila, who is a pharmacist, said that in July 2020 she began to feel a tingling in her leg. “I thought it was because of fatigue,” he commented. The symptom, however, intensified very quickly, and within the same week he stopped feeling his leg, so he went to the doctor. “They said it looked like thrombosis, but they scheduled tests to confirm it,” he reported.
Without knowing the reason for the tingling, that month was full of exams for Priscilla. “Until they found out the diagnosis, they thought it was a sciatic nerve problem, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or some rare disease,” he reported. In August 2020, a month after the onset of symptoms, the diagnosis came. “I thought I was going to run out of moves, because I I had no knowledge about the disease“, he recalled. Priscila, then, started talking to people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to collect indications from neurologists.
“I consulted with many doctors, but I really identified with Dr. Andrea, from Santos”, commented the pharmacist. Priscilla said in an interview with G1 that the doctor managed to explain in a very didactic way what the disease consisted of and how efficient the right treatment could be. “I felt very supported”, she adds.
Priscila’s treatment was so successful that today, a year after her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, she says she lives normally. “Sometimes even I forget I have sclerosis. I didn’t have any sequels,” she reports. The pharmacist, however, comments on the importance of having a quick diagnosis. “This mania of people thinking that no symptoms are serious enough to go to the doctor is the worst thing. We have to learn to always put ourselves first”, he reinforces.
Priscila Oliveira one year after the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis — Photo: Personal archive/Priscila Sandmann Oliveira
As for the changes that the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis brought about in her life, Priscila Oliveira comments that the main one was the perception of time. “I realized that if I had taken longer to go to the doctor and do the exams, I could have had sequelae. The treatment is not over yet, but I have nothing left, even the brain damage I had at the beginning [do diagnóstico] are inactive,” he reported.
Priscila also pointed out a change in her principles. “Now I think about doing everything today, not making plans for 3 or 5 years from now. I have to live today, because everything happens very quickly,” he explained.
Priscila feels 100% well today, with no symptoms or sequelae of multiple sclerosis. She performs treatment for the disease — Photo: Personal archive/Priscila Sandmann Oliveira
Monitoring and diagnosis
Priscila commented on the importance of medical monitoring and support from acquaintances in the diagnosis. “Having people support you helps a lot.. I was very lucky with the people in my work, who from the moment I started with the symptoms gave me all the support I needed. Today I feel that this made a difference,” he reported.
The pharmacist is engaged and had her wedding celebration postponed due to the pandemic. Priscila comments on the support the groom provided when she needed it most. “When I started with the tingling, he was always with me in the exams and following each step”, he commented. Priscila also said that her family knew about the symptoms, but that she did not pass on the doctors’ hunches so as not to create expectations before receiving the diagnosis.
“When I received the diagnosis I was devastated. My family was desperate because the shock was even greater for them,” he recalled. Priscila comments that humanized medical monitoring made all the difference. “We need more human doctors. At a delicate time like being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a patient and human treatment makes all the difference“, reported.
Neurologist Andrea Anacleto, who attends Priscila and follows her since the beginning of the treatment, said that people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis need understand the disease. “Today there is no shortage of medications or treatments and it is possible to have a fantastic and healthy life being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis“, points out.
The doctor also highlights that today she no longer sees reasons for the disease to have so much stigma. She explains that in Santos there are places that carry out the treatment of multiple sclerosis by the Unified Health System (SUS), as well as places that carry out procedures for the rehabilitation of patients who have developed sequelae. “Today whoever has multiple sclerosis has a life as good as anyone else,” he says.
According to the Ministry of Health, multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system and is autoimmune, that is, it originates from the moment the immune system starts producing antibodies against components of the body itself. This disease is characterized by the wear of the nerve cells, responsible for carrying the electrical impulses that control the body’s functions.
The person diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, therefore, is likely to have consequences such as changes in vision, balance and musculature. According to the public agency, in Brazil, approximately nine people out of 100 are diagnosed with the disease. The protocol indicated by the SUS for multiple sclerosis presents drug and non-drug treatment that, according to the Ministry of Health, are effective and guarantee a very significant improvement in the patient, especially when the diagnosis is made at the beginning of the disease.