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Stanford Multiple Sclerosis Clinic: Mary-Lynne Blazzard's Story

04.25.2011

Multiple Sclerosis reshaped the life Mary-Lynne Blazzard once knew

In a matter of years, Mary-Lynne Blazzard went from high-tech marketing executive—and in control of every detail in her life—to a woman struggling with the depression and isolation that often comes with a chronic condition. She had experienced her first symptoms in her 20s, but she wasn't diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a debilitating autoimmune disease, until another bout of vision loss occurred over a decade later.

"That first time was terrifying," Blazzard said. "I didn't even know what it was. When I woke up that morning, my vision seemed kind of funny. My left eye had a complete black line through it and I was missing half my vision in that eye."

The doctor she saw told her and her husband, Ernest, that he suspected optic neuritis. Her vision loss could either be the start of MS or it could be an isolated case. She wasn't fazed. "I immediately put the MS diagnosis out of my brain and went on with my life," she said. "We were young and in denial."

Then in 2004, Blazzard's vision changed again and after a battery of tests, her doctor diagnosed her with MS. She was devastated and in disbelief. After a second opinion confirmed the diagnosis, she started a treatment plan that involved daily injections. "Not only did I not want the diagnosis," she recalled. "I didn't want the treatment."

Blazzard wanted to control the MS, not the other way around. She looked for resources and ways to build a personal support team, including her husband, her family and friends, as well as her knowledgeable medical team. They became her lifeline and she was successful for the first few years.

Over time, however, some of her relationships changed and she started blaming the MS for anything that went wrong. Blazzard and her family then moved to a new city and she fell into a spiral of depression, which is very common in people with MS. There were days when she wouldn't leave the house or pick up her kids from school. "I wasn't participating in life anymore," she said. Ernest suggested they give Stanford a try.

Blazzard's first appointment at the Stanford MS Center was a reawakening for her. The MS team was eager to guide and encourage her on a new path in life. On that day, she realized it was time to take care of herself again—and to rebuild her support team.

"I needed my own robust 'personal board of executives' to help me regain control of my life," Blazzard said. "That started with the MS clinic at Stanford and getting the right treatment for me. It then grew to include psychiatric help. We really managed my depression for the first time in my life."

Getting the right experts on her team and a complete picture of her health was essential. Stanford became a big resource for Blazzard. In addition to the neurology and psychiatric teams, she also met with specialists at what is now the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford to manage her optic neuritis. "Stanford is amazing," Blazzard said. "We drive an hour each way to get there and I don't mind. It's worth it to me."

"My life today looks entirely different than what I imagined it was going to look like 20-some odd years ago," she said. "Before it was all about me and whether I was succeeding and what I was achieving. Now I'm a stay-at-home mom. I volunteer at my kids' schools, at church, and for the MS Society. I can't imagine being any happier than I am right now."

Video Transcript

0:00

the math

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while a neurologist can give you the scientific terms of what an ass

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and the falconer on them a but the

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mile encoding and may exacerbate a shin

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all I can tell you is it make interesting wrecked havoc in my life

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the new I was diagnosed in 2004

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that once I was diagnosed I realize but actually had my first exacerbates an

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what I want my vision for the first time went to bed that night like feeling like

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I have a cold or something like that and

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I woke up the next morning and my vision Justin kinda funny

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I just started going like this the new

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and I also like 20 ohmygosh like my left I have like a complete black light

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through and the net benchley diagnose mitotic

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optic neuritis theme I remember my neurologist telling me

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that now the new this could be the on to multiple sclerosis or it could just be

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an isolated case

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I'll well might 21-year-old brain just heard

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optic neuritis okay cool I'm of

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and I never thought about it again so in 2004

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I had a familiar situation happen again I was the dinner that night

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and I kept brushing hair on my eyes and the my has become think there's no hair

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on your eyes Mike

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started and the it was terrifying

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at first I thought ophthalmologist and what the all is battery of tests and

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well it turns out it with Ms

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Wow I felt like life to me a curveball

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and Tom I needed to figure out how

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to manage that the masthead suppression in the back to running and my depression

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got so bad

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there were points when I don't leave my house for days at a time

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wanna pick my kids up from school had to have friends or family do it

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the

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I just wasn't participating in life anymore the new and I felt like I've

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lost everything

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the new one thing I've learned got on my time and

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I think not I am asked a couple to the battle you have to buy it some other

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things that are going on with you

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and %uh finally my husband I talked with that okay if we're gonna do this the man

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was in his writing

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I must look at Stamford I remember the my first apartment

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I just cried when I think I cry and

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the movie I was worn down

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I was tired and that mass and it was time to get back to

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taking care of myself and taken care of life

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that's why I had my huge awakening I have his professional here to help me

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and I really got question as to are you in this are you not

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when do you wanna fight this or do not want to bite dans

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I kinda coined the term I my personal board executives

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and that I needed to

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to start getting some experts on my team that started out with the professionals

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from

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and thats apartments down for the neurology department and

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things that I clinic at the end credits also include

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down for the mobile homes are the other issue I had

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I can do a lot away and that was finding a nutritionist

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and I was down but for that the my grandma always told me there's no

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mistakes only weapons

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and I kinda feel that way about a master not a mistake at the last min

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and I feel like I'm really learning out now

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my life today looks entirely different than what I imagined it was gonna look

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like

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twenty-some-odd years ago the

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but it's still a wonderful life

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the

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when

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when

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when

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the

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