The Diary of a “differently-abled” NMO Warrior

Shekita Green

My name is Shekita Green, and I have Neuromyelitis Optica. I am the mother
of two teenagers, the wife of an Army vet and an entrepreneur.

January 2013, I went to work in one of the offices I managed. I was a
district manager which entailed me traveling across Kansas often working long
hours. So, when I was in the office, feeling nauseous, I didn’t really think
anything of it. I thought perhaps I was tired considering the week had been
busy. It was Valentine’s Day, so I had made plans to leave the office early and
spend the day with my family. Not even a few hours in, the nauseousness become
so severe that I just knew I would throw up. I decided to head home. By the
time I got home I started throwing up. I barely made it through the door. This
went on for several days not able to eat or drink anything. I started to
rapidly lose weight at which point my husband took me to the hospital. Whatever
this was, it was not going away, only getting worse.

After a series of hospital visits and testing, I was diagnosed two months
later with BBPV while simultaneously starting a new position at my company as
an owner operator which required me to move from Fort Riley, KS to Washington
State. This process was not easy. I built out an office AND ran the office all
while trying to overcome this illness. I had to balance my professional
responsibilities with nystagmus and symptoms of vertigo for next four years. I
adjusted to the newly acquired disabilities so when the opportunity presented
itself for me to move out of state running a district, I took it. With my
family on board, we relocated to Houston, starting a new chapter of our lives.
I continued to put all my effort into my work. I didn’t think too much about
what happened to me in 2013. It all just seemed like a distant memory. I was
convinced it really was just vertigo. I thought “I will just push through and
deal with it like I do everything else. “

Eventually, I left the company, took a break, and started a new job.
February 12, 2020, I was at work and became nauseated with a migraine and pain
in the back of my eyes. Two days later, I was in the ER. I found myself at
several hospitals looking for answers. Each time, I was told they found nothing
and was sent home. The first couple of weeks of this mystery illness, I was
plagued with non-stop hiccups, nausea and vomiting before experiencing
strabismus. Shortly after, I began feeling a strong loss of sensation in my
legs, severe fatigue and weakness. I felt like I was becoming paralyzed. I also
lost bladder and bowel function, had a weird vibration in my voice when I
spoke, and had trouble swallowing any food or liquid. The vomiting was
relentless. I felt like this was the end. Not only that, within that month, I
lost 40lbs during the ordeal. I didn’t feel safe at home. I knew something was
off, but I could not figure out what it was. What I did know was that this all
seemed familiar.

The doctors were getting frustrated, but I did not let that stop me. I was
relentless and determined to find out what was going on. I was starting to lose
hope after being rejected so many times and told that they couldn’t find
anything. I wouldn’t give up and decided to see an ENT specialist. The
specialist ran tests and said, “I can’t find anything wrong anything wrong
within this specialty, but I’m going to tell you, don’t go anywhere else other
than straight to the hospital from here.” I was so scared, but I had to know
what was wrong. As soon as I arrived, I was processed quickly, got into a room
and an MRI was conducted. After few hours, I was admitted. 

The neurologist came to see me and ran some test to include a spinal tap and
some neurological test. I was immediately given IV steroids. Suddenly, I found
myself feeling better each day I received the medication. After four days, I
was sent home and told to follow up with the neurologist but not before they
told me, I had a lesion on my brainstem. “What did this mean?” As the nurse
wheeled me out, she said to me, “eat healthy and maybe the myelin will repair
itself”. I asked her, what was going on, what’s the diagnosis? They only thing
she could tell me was that it looks like MS, but it’s not.

I went home in a bit of a panic. I pondered on the possibility of a MS
diagnosis but wondered if not MS, then what else. Where did these lesions come
from? How could I get lesions on my brainstem? Finally, I met with the
neurologist. I was told I tested positive for the Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibody.
I was officially diagnosed with NMO. This was shocking news. After receiving
the diagnosis, I spent a lot of researching and learning about the condition. I
sustained a lot of damage from the attack but over time, I came to terms and
decided I would not let it stand in my way from succeeding in my career and
living a full life while still managing this condition.

Now, I use my social media presence on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and
Tiktok to advocate and educate myself and other people living with chronic
illnesses, with a focus on NMO. I have also built a network of individuals
across the world living with NMO for support. I plan to continue my work by
spreading awareness, with the hope of someday finding a cure. “I may be
differently abled, but I am stronger than I ever have been. The harder I fall
the stronger I stand. I will not be defeated by this.”

harder I fall the stronger I stand”- srg_nmo_warrior

1 Comment

  1. Shekita Green on April 6, 2023 at 11:52 am

    At your earliest, please remove my story as well as my vignette from your website.

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