Shoreview teen raises awareness for MS

The Shoreview Press, July 2012


SHOREVIEW — Emily Blosberg has been volunteering with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society since she was two years old, around the same time that her father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Thirteen years later, this 15-year-old Shoreview resident received the same diagnosis.

Now, seven months after her official diagnosis, Emily is staying positive and continues her vigorous fundraising and awareness efforts.

Blosberg said her dad has been a wonderful role model as she learns to live with MS. “One of the things he told me (when I was diagnosed) was ‘I have MS, it doesn’t have me.’ That’s the way both of us have been living our lives, just not letting it take over us,” she said.

According to the nonprofit’s website, “Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system … Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.”

The first symptom Blosberg encountered was numbness that spread from her hand to her whole body, in September 2010. The numbness went away, but after a few weeks it was back. Her next symptom was Nystagmus, or “jumpy eyes,” as Blosberg put it. This occurred two different times, for a week each time. The Blosberg family knew that these symptoms were consistent with MS, but until she had another relapse they could not get the diagnosis.

“We were like, ‘Well, we already know this is MS, we just need another relapse,’” she said. “Of course, we (didn’t) want it to be MS, we just want it to get better and go away.”

The second relapse came in November 2011. After taking home a copy of her MRI scan, the family put it in the computer to take a look. “I’ve been looking at MRIs for so long, I’ve been looking at my dad’s MRIs for so long, that I had actually basically diagnosed myself,” Blosberg said. “I looked at the computer screen and I said, ‘There’s a lesion right there that’s not supposed to be there.’ So my mom called the doctor and she said, ‘You need to get these MRIs read tonight because she already knows.’”

Blosberg’s case is rare, as it is not common for a teenager to get MS.

Blosberg has been active in fundraising and awareness for many statewide MS events.

On June 8-10, she served as an ambassador at the MS 150 Bike Ride from Duluth to Century College in White Bear Lake, the ninth year she has worked with the event. She has also participated in the six-mile MS Walk and the Twin Cities Ride, a 30- or 60-mile bike ride.

Blosberg has also begun her own fundraising ventures. “I’m known as the ‘monkey girl,’ because I’ve sewn about 120 sock monkeys since just before my symptoms started two years ago,” she said.

Hand crafts have also helped her deal with MS symptoms. “One of the reasons I started making sock monkeys, after finding out that I loved making them, is it kind of doubled as a hand therapy for myself, to work on my fine motor skills,” she said.

She has also made pins out of Barrel-O-Monkey pieces, an idea her parents helped her come up with. “I was giving those out to the riders and volunteers at the 150 as a thank-you for riding and volunteering,” Blosberg added. “My little slogan was ‘Link together to fight MS.’ I think I raised about $600 from those by selling them for $1 each. So, it was a good fundraiser.”

Blosberg’s family has supported her through the mysterious year of symptoms before her diagnosis and — especially — since then. After her diagnosis, Blosberg said her father was devastated, but he has also taught her how to fight. “It was never something he wanted my siblings and I to go through, because he knew how hard it was.”

Her friends have also been very supportive, Blosberg said. “Those with MS are still the same people they’ve always been,” she stressed. “The only different thing about them to other people is that they might have symptoms that come up that they need to take a step back and just take a little rest.”

Blosberg has a noticeably sunny attitude about her situation. “I’m still walking. I’m still able to do everything that I was able to do before, it’s just that I do it at a slower pace. So I’m still able to get straight A’s in school, I’m still able to go on vacation, I’m still able to do everything that any other teenager would be able to do, it’s just that I have to pace myself,” she said. “I’m grateful for that, and grateful that I’m able to do all the same things.”

See original article here.