“MS sucks,” says Giovahann White about his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. “It's unexpected. It can be rough. But it's different for everyone.”
White studies French translation at McGill University with a minor in international development. He was moonlighting as a security guard at a Montreal nightclub when he started having trouble getting down the stairs.
He described what happened next: “One of the managers stopped me and was like ‘What did you do to your leg?’ I was like, ‘I didn't trip, didn't fall, didn't hurt anything. I feel no pain. It's just that I cannot really walk.’ He's like ‘Bro, you have to go to the hospital as soon as possible. It looks like you have a stroke.’”
After talking to his family doctor, White was referred to Dr. Paul Giacomini at The Neuro’s MS Clinic. Dr. Giacomini officially diagnosed White with MS, and helped him plan how to manage his condition. They meet regularly to monitor White’s progression and symptoms.
At first White didn’t believe he had MS. Once he came to accept his diagnosis, he had to convince his family, who didn’t believe it either.
“They weren't having it,” he says. “There was no history of neurological disorders in our family. There was a bit of a backlash against it.”
White has had to take a less physically demanding job, which was hard for him because he likes being active. Before the diagnosis, White played several sports including rugby and basketball. One walk up the hill from McGill to The Neuro was an emotional one for him, because he passed the field where he used to play rugby.
“My girlfriend, who was coming with me, was walking at her regular speed but then I was kind of like taking it all in, thinking that if had I known this two or three years ago I would have enjoyed the time that I had being able bodied that much more.”
Now White is fighting back against MS by getting help from specialists to overcome his symptoms. He works with a kinesiologist to build muscles, to stabilise his body and he does eye exercises to maintain his range of view.
“It is really good,” he says. “I feel as though The Neuro has a really great support system and I've been lucky enough to have my own support system as well.”