Patient Stories 24 Jun 2021 Back to Stories

Emirati Patient’s Multiple Sclerosis Finally Gets Diagnosed After Sister Insists on Second Opinion

An Emirati spent years living with undiagnosed Multiple Sclerosis (MS) until her sister’s insistence on a second opinion led to an effective treatment and a new lease of life.

Ameena, a school administrator, did not know that she was living with MS. For almost a decade, she had been experiencing ongoing health issues and was struggling with organizational and clerical duties at work. After watching Ameena’s balance deteriorate to the point that she was unable to walk for more than 200 meters without assistance, her sister urged her to get a second opinion.

Ameena saw the team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Multiple Sclerosis Program. Dr. Anu Jacob, Director of Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, explains “Not every person with MS will have typical symptoms, which explains why Ameena was undiagnosed for so long. We regularly see patients who have delayed diagnosis as seemingly unrelated and bizarre health problems often confuse doctors. People need to be aware of the possibility of MS and we need to believe that multiple sclerosis is treatable and not a terminal illness. With careful history-taking and attention to detail, we concluded that Ameena may have MS, primarily in the spinal cord.”

There are two stages of MS, namely relapsing and progressive. The relapsing stage lasts for many years and has effective treatment options, but in the progressive stage, the patient’s condition, especially mobility, gradually deteriorates and becomes more difficult to treat. Ameena’s long history of symptoms and gradual deterioration made progressive MS more likely.

Ameena was offered a novel treatment, which is associated with potential side effects. The team carefully explained the benefits and she decided to try the treatment. Spurred on by her dream to visit Expo 2020 Dubai and cover all pavilions on foot, Ameena committed to her new regime. 

Ameena proudly fulfilled her Expo dream: “It was something else, to be able to walk without any support, any assistance. All of this has been made possible by the caring staff at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi” she says.

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