Mum-of-two Samantha Stevens suffers with a form of neurological disease multiple sclerosis and says the first sign of the illness was when she suddenly lost her eyesight every time she showered at home
Image: Liverpool ECHO)
A mum-of-two who loses her eyesight every time she has a hot shower says the visual disturbance was the first sign of multiple sclerosis.
Samantha Stevens. 37, has relapse remitting MS, an incurable neurological condition which involves the immune system attacking nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
She was first diagnosed with the lifelong disease in 2010 when her daughter was just a year old, Liverpool Echo reports.
The ailment – which causes tiredness, vision problems and issues with balance or walking – manifested in Samantha’s case with blindness whenever her core temperature rose too high.
She would lose her eyesight completely in one eye whenever she took a hot shower and during hot summer days.
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Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, she said: “My daughter was a year old and I just lost sight in one of my eyes, I think MS can quite often present with visual disturbances.
“My auntie struggled with MS for a long time and she got to the point where she lost mobility in her arms and legs and I saw that growing up, so my first thought was ‘oh no am I going to end up bed ridden’ as many with the condition do.
“I had an MRI scan and a lumbar puncture to confirm my diagnosis, there’s a lot of invisible symptoms; if I have a hot shower, I lose my eyesight, in the summer if it’s too warm, I lose my eyesight.
“I am fortunate that when my core temperature goes back to normal I do regain my sight.”
The Multiple Sclerosis society estimates that there are over 130,000 people with MS in the UK, and that nearly 7000 people are newly diagnosed each year.
Samantha, from Newton-le-Willows, now cares for her two daughters on her own, despite her condition progressing further requiring her to use a walking stick.
She said: “A lot of the time, with the relapses, you will have a problem and your immune system will sort of repair itself, but now that I’m in the progressive stage of my disease, there isn’t any repair now.
“I have extra aids at home, extra rails and equipment in the bathroom to help me with my showers and that sort of thing.”
The mum-of-two believes her devastating condition has strengthened her relationship with her two daughters aged 11 and 14.
She said: “There are small things like struggling to fill in a form when my kids bring them home from school because I struggle to hold a pen.
“My kids actually help quite a lot with cooking, and lifting pans from the cooker to the sink and so on. They’ve almost taken on sort of a carer’s role which is rubbish because you hope your children will have as much as a childhood as they can.
“My older daughter understands the disease and its effect and she definitely worries, but I’d say it affects our relationship positively because I think they have a lot of admiration for me and what I have to do without the help of her their dad.
“He left when things got bad to have a better life without the burden of me I suppose, so it is just me and the girls.”
Samantha is on a waiting list for NHS treatment but believes her best hope is to travel abroad and receive experimental stem cell treatment, that she claims to have up to a 76% success rate in treating her condition.
She said: “It is a risky and potentially dangerous procedure but I really don’t have many options.
“If there’s even a small chance that my disease progression can be stopped I’m willing to take the risk.”
Samantha is raising money to help fund her trip for treatment, you can donate via her GoFundMe page.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.