TROY — The fact there is no cure yet for multiple sclerosis is the hardest part of facing each day for Christi Bohrer.
To do her part to help change that fact, Bohrer has agreed to be the ambassador of this year’s 22nd annual WalkMS: Miami County, which will be held at 2 p.m. April 8, at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Bohrer, of Tipp City, was officially diagnosed with MS in 2007, and said the disease has changed many aspects of her life.
“I was scared. I did not know much about multiple sclerosis and how much life would change. I had never considered MS was causing my vision to blur or the numbness in my hand. No one in my family had it,” said Bohrer, who is married to husband Doug. “The only person I knew with MS was TV’s Annette Funicello.
”With any disease, you always start out thinking the worst. I had to motivate and educate myself to live the best life I could. I could not stop moving.”
She said her doctor suggested looking into the National MS Society and finding a local chapter for support. Bohrer said her family became involved with the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society shortly after her diagnosis. She said the chapter has enabled her to become more involved in MS education and the MS community by attending lectures, participating in fundraising walks and as a member of a support group she has found beneficial.
The Wayne High School and Wright State University graduate said even her career path changed following her diagnosis. She was a working teacher until symptoms made it too hard to continue.
“I went to college to become a teacher. It soon became difficult to stand and walk for so many hours a day. Being newly diagnosed, my immune system had a difficult time with the exposure to all of the different germs and viruses,” said Bohrer, who enjoys reading, yoga and spending time with her family dogs. “I wanted to continue working and maintain my mobility, so I had to change direction. I am no longer teaching, but I now have a job in the community that I enjoy.”
Bohrer said fatigue, pain, numbness, and muscle spasms are common symptoms she experiences.
“This is not a cookie-cutter disease. Everyone experiences MS differently. I believe this is difficult for many people to understand,” she said.
She said learning that she could no longer be out in the summer sun and heat also was difficult. Vacations have now had to be moved to cooler climates because she can not tolerate the heat, as MS patients are often sensitive to temperature fluctuations, she said. Increased body temperature can lead to what’s called Uhthoff’s syndrome, in which symptoms flare up or worsen, according to Bohrer.
“Living with MS has been a journey. This disease has taught me to keep going, keep living, even though I have bad days when I am in pain or too fatigued to leave the house. Life is different now. I have to be more aware of how I budget my energy each day, including my career.
“For many, MS is an invisible disease. People have told me that I can’t have MS, I don’t look sick,” Bohrer said. “I have heard many hurtful comments from those that do not know how MS affects people.”
Bohrer, who also has a team, said WalkMS: Miami County not only brings awareness about the disease, but raises funds and the opportunity to meet others impacted by MS.
“It is time to start more conversations about multiple sclerosis. I never imagined I would be diagnosed with MS. You do not think about MS until MS affects you,” she said.
Reach Melody Vallieu at mvallieu@aimmediamidwest or (937) 552-2131