In the spirit of MS Awareness week, check out this great article by Cari Boyce for Clay Sun.
Re-blogged with permission. Original article here.
As a child, Jacksonville native Eric Twisdale wanted to be a police officer. In 1995, he achieved his goal and joined the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office as a corrections officer. Three years later, he joined the force at the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and has since celebrated 16 years with that agency and attained the rank of sergeant.
But despite his success, after only a few years of service, Twisdale experienced symptoms that threatened the life he worked to build.
“In June 1999, my body went numb from the chest down,” Twisdale said. “Doctors initially attributed this to a bruised spinal cord sustained in a wreck two weeks earlier when a dump truck collided with the police vehicle I was driving.”
An unexpected diagnosis
Doctors expected the symptoms to improve, but they persisted and Twisdale began to experience fatigue that interfered with his active lifestyle and, potentially, his career. Police work often is physically demanding, and Twisdale, who is part of the special operations and community relations team, also was — and still is — on the hostage negotiating team as well as the dive team.
“On April 4, 2001, nearly two years after the symptoms appeared and after many additional tests and nerve conduction studies, an MRI led to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis,” Twisdale said. “For me, the only course of action was to be proactive when it came to handling this disease.”
Multiple sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease that involves an immune system attack against the central nervous system.
Twisdale realized quickly that his diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS was not an immediate threat to his career, his activity level or his quality of life. He chose to avoid self pity by becoming more involved, more active.
In September 2001, just five months after his diagnosis, he completed his first Bike MS event, the MS 150 — a 150-mile, two-day bicycle trek from St. Augustine to Daytona and back. He has since completed five MS 150s and joined the planning committee after completing that first ride. By 2002 he became involved with the National MS Society as an MS Ambassador.