Introducing: Virginia Hays
MS ALLIANCE: Tell us a little about yourself
VIRGINIA: My name is Virginia Hays. I was born in Maryland and moved to VA 27 years ago.
MS ALLIANCE: Tell us about your diagnosis and MS journey.
VIRGINIA: Back when I was going to college, I was working in a movie theater. One day I noticed that I felt numb from my waist down. I ended up taking a year off from school. My doctor put me in the hospital. Back then, there were no MRI’s or CT scans. My diagnosis at that time was stress due to living with my elderly parents.
Fast forward several years. I was doing good. Our family would go on trips and spend time with our families and friends. At this time, I was an X-Ray Technician in a doctor’s office. The staff started noticing that I couldn’t keep up with my job duties. I was sent to a neurologist. He ordered an MRI, 10 tubes of blood to be drawn and a spinal tap. He diagnosed me with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. I continued to work as long as I could, or they would let me. My doctor moved, so I started going to the MS Clinic at UVA. The doctor there now said that I now had Secondary Progressive MS.
MS ALLIANCE: How did you find the MSAV?
VIRGINIA: I’m not sure how we found out about this great group. My children and I would go to the Brian Mason MS Retreat at Smith Mountain Lake in September. This was a weekend away from computers, phones and work. It was there that we met Suzanne O’Connell and Denise Ellis. I’m sure this is where we found out about the MSAV. We feel like this isn’t just a group, it’s a family.
MS ALLIANCE: What would you tell someone who was newly diagnosed with MS?
VIRGINIA: For those who are newly diagnosed, I suggest that you slow down and take a minute to breathe. This is not the end of the world. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (This is something I have a hard time with).
MS ALLIANCE: What are some tips you have discovered that help with navigating MS?
VIRGINIA: It is important to find a neurologist that you feel comfortable with. Write down anything that you may find different during your day so you can let your doctor know. And not everything you feel is always connected to MS, that’s why it’s good to write it down. You may want to take a friend or family member with you to your appointments. This helps because they may remember something that you forget.
MS ALLIANCE: What have you been doing to keep yourself sane while the world has been in lockdown?
VIRGINIA: I tend to get upset when I have to go out. So, staying home hasn’t been that much of a problem. Some of this is based on the fact that I need help now, which I don’t like to ask for. I have really enjoyed the Zoom meetings and the exercise classes that I do online. I also love working on my container gardening, reading, Facebook and my shows.
Photograph by Ellis Foto