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My appearance on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

by Karen

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am 49 years old; married to a wonderful man; the mother of 3 (ages 31, 19, 17). I was diagnosed with MS two years ago.

I was one of those people at the peak of my career. I was the vice president of the largest Coldwell Banker Real Estate company in Chicago. We had over 400 agents in our company alone and I was directly responsible for 68 agents. I had worked in Real Estate for 17 years. I was also the Vice Presient of Century 21 in Chicago. We had just bought a nice home in the suburbs of Chicago. So, my career was going well, my family was doing well.

Then... *BAM*..."you have MS".

It has taken me 2 years just to learn how to cope. I was in hospital 4 times because I have a strange reaction to steroids. When I receive the I.V. my blood pressure goes way up and my pulse drops (the last time my pulse stayed at 44 for two weeks).

So, now you know a little bit about me, on to the Oprah Show. I had met Oprah a few years ago, through a friend of mine who works for her. When I go to the show, he reserves the front center row for me and my friends. He told me that she was thinking about doing a show on MS because a lot of people had been requesting it, but he didn't know when it would be done.

Oprah has a webpage, so I went into it and read that they were asking for people who had MS to tell them our story. I wrote my story, and the producer called and asked if I could come down to the studio that Thursday. She sent a Limo to pick us up. I took my oldest daughter, Robin, and a friend with me.

They really treated me nice. I went in the "green" room. We had breakfast, and they did my hair and make-up. There I met others who were on the show. A young lady who had had MS since she was a teenager. A mother and daughter from GA who had chronic fatigue syndrome. A lady who had been bitten by a tick when she was pregnant and the baby was born with lyme disease. One man had Leukemia. There was also an Olympic winner that had a thyroid problem. The one thing that we all had in common was that we all had been misdiagnosed before they found out what we had.

Dr. Nancy Snidermann was also on the show. It was a very good show. I heard from a lot of people afterwards. The show had made them look at things differently.

In my case, the doctors kept telling me that I was under a lot of stress because of my job. They told me that I had fatigue because I was overweight and the high stress job made it worse. When I got optic neuritis they gave me an MRI. The results came back and the doctors told me that from the MRI it looked like I had had MS for many years. Looking back now, I can recall the fatigue and the tingling and the vision problem that would come and go.

The show ran in Chicago in July '98. I don't know when it ran in other cities. There were many people with MS in the audience (a lot of scooters and canes). We stayed for a second show-taping.

I felt so good, but it took me a week after that to get my energy back. It was a great experience. Oprah was very nice. The only thing that was odd was that on the day we taped the show, she had Annette Funichello say a few words. When I saw Annette, I started to cry. She did not look good. She looked very weak. But when I saw the show in July, they cut her part out. It confused me because I was on right after her. I'd had tears in my eyes, but I'd composed myself right away.

Well, that's my story, I hope you enjoyed it. I think we should see more disabled people on TV.

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