In the spring of 2008 I experienced fatigue, and I got itchy hives all over my body. I was using a heating pad for extreme back ache all summer long. I saw several doctors and no one seemed to know what was going on – maybe arthritis, maybe too much lifting…

Then I was hospitalized for nine days after feeling a very sharp pain in my back and then falling on my butt because of it. By then I had four compression fractures of vertebrae, but still no diagnosis. Finally, as my vertebrae kept fracturing, I was referred to a specialist. I was told it would be four weeks before he could see me, but he graciously took me the next day, because he had seen the blood work that had been done when I had been hospitalized, and he knew right away what I was dealing with – MM.

My husband and I both thought I’d be dead within two months, but here I am almost six years later. What happened?

I was put on Revlimid and Dex and right away my numbers came down. My stem cells were harvested at Mayo, but since the meds are working, I’ve not had a transplant. My numbers are low, but I will perhaps never be in remission.

By the time I got on the meds, I had nine vertebrae with compression fractures, so I take a pain med every morning and evening. As the years have gone on I actually have more energy – now I can sew and bake and even mow the lawn and tend to my flower gardens.

My advice? I would encourage anyone out there to be more aggressive than I was about asking for blood work to be done. Family doctors evidently aren’t trained to diagnose MM, so go to a specialist as soon as possible. If I had done that, I wouldn’t be having the back pain now. And, I had used weed killer on our lawn and stained our house with a stain that is no longer on the market because it was so dangerous – all without adequate protection. So, stay away from chemicals like that.

God’s presence is so much with me through this all, and my family is so loving and so close. I have a lot to live for, but I have no fear of dying either. We all will, of one thing or another, and I am grateful for having lived a graced and beautiful life.

— Ramona K.

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