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Adrian Wilkins

Stepping out of Stress to Fight MS

Holy Name MS - Adrian Wilkins

Multiple sclerosis taught Adrian Wilkins how to manage stress. When he was involved in a car accident — he calmly called 911 and his insurance — he just "stepped it out," as he said and moved on.

Whether it was moving to another state, changing jobs or even mourning the loss of a loved one, Adrian found ways to keep stress at bay. That's because he knew how stress could ramp up his symptoms or cause a full-blown MS episode and he was determined to minimize the odds of that happening.

He ate well and exercised regularly as he sought treatment for his disease. When he discovered the MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center, he knew he found a place that understood not just his disease, but him and his lifestyle as well. The treatment he received was life-changing.

"Holy Name is just top of the line," Adrian said. "The doctors, nurses and staff members take the time to talk to you and not just about MS. They want to know about you as a person, your family and your career. The way the whole process is put together — it just blows me away."

Adrian, 42, wasn't always a proponent of the medical field.

In 2004, he was diagnosed with MS after experiencing nausea and tingling in his limbs, symptoms that appeared only once while he was in college six years earlier. This time, he was walking down a street in Las Vegas and the symptoms were so severe he had to go to a hospital emergency department.

For the next two years, his malaise became a regular part of his life. In addition to the nausea, his arms shook violently from tremors, his balance was so compromised that he couldn't stand up for longer than 10 seconds without falling over, and he suffered from blurry vision.

"These episodes would last for seven days and on the seventh day, they would all just go away," Adrian said. "I had this every couple of months."

While he hated having the disease, what sent Adrian into a tailspin was having to give himself injections. He became severely depressed, crying as he would insert the needle. He couldn't imagine a lifetime of this treatment and started realizing how much stress he was experiencing.

Living in California at the time, he went against medical advice and stopped taking his medications. But he started eating right, exercising and learning how to remain serene through adversity. His severe episodes stopped.

As his life took some sharp turns, he managed to handle the upheavals calmly, still managing his stress well. He moved to Michigan to help his mom when she became ill and later relocated to New Jersey, where he earned an academic fellowship that enabled him to earn a master's degree at The College of New Jersey and continue his career in technology education.

Unfortunately, for the first time in many years, he started developing symptoms again from his MS. He went to a large New Jersey hospital where he was given a treatment that produced black spots on his arms and face and made him so nauseated he dropped 16 pounds.

Then he found Holy Name's MS Center. His experience has been unparalleled, he said.

"It wasn't ideal for me to have stopped treatment for 10 years but they worked with me to find a treatment with minimal side-effects," Adrian said.

Adrian has been on Tysabri, with minor side effects for several years. In July 2016, he learned the disease was in a form of remission.

"When I heard the news, I just started bawling in his office," Adrian said. "I'm so grateful."

Adrian has continued his exercise regimen and he still tries to eat the right foods, giving him some unexpected results.

"I'm still really good at keeping my stress down and I started getting attention for being in good shape," he said with a laugh. "I figure I need to keep this going."

Learn more about MS Center at Holy Name