Fifteen years ago, Tricia Chandler faced the possibility of losing her eyesight. At 24 years of age, and a new mother of a beautiful baby boy, Jake, the prospect was daunting. After multiple tests and scans, Tricia was told she had multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder where the body ends up attacking its own nervous system.
“I didn’t know what multiple sclerosis was, how to spell it, and how it would define my life,” says Tricia.
Tricia was referred to Thomas Chippendale, MD, PhD, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas neurologist and MS specialist. Together, they came up with a treatment plan to manage the disease and minimize the long-term effects that it may have on her body.
“Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, debilitating and emotionally draining disease,” says Tricia. “To be able to count on your doctor, and know that he wants what’s best for you, is huge. Dr. Chippendale was there for me in the very beginning and he’s been providing me care ever since.”
While MS episodes and symptoms can vary, over the years, Tricia has experienced a range of symptoms, including bouts of debilitating pain, being wheelchair-bound, migraine-like headaches and loss of bladder control.
“Out of all my symptoms, the loss of bladder control was probably the most embarrassing and horrible symptom I had,” she says. “Once I was able to have that controlled, my whole life changed.”
For Tricia, the key to managing multiple sclerosis has been maintaining a positive attitude, eating right, exercising and reducing the stress in her life. Tricia also finds comfort in being an advocate for people with multiple sclerosis. It gives her a great sense of empowerment.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to help others. It’s a blessing,” says Tricia, who serves as a volunteer for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, San Diego Chapter. “That’s what keeps me going, keeps me fighting until a cure is found.”
Tricia talks about living with multiple sclerosis and her care at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas.