I majored in theatre in college and was on a national tour with a Sesame Street production when I began to experience symptoms such as fatigue, tingling, and unexpected falls. Six months later, I was in the hospital with paralysis affecting much of my body. In a matter of months, I went from rehearsals to rehab.
Devic's disease, also known as neuromyelitis optica, is an autoimmune disease affecting the spinal cord and optic nerves. In this disease, the protective outer covering of the nerves is lost. Signs and symptoms include blindness in one or both eyes, weakness or paralysis in the legs or arms, and painful spasms.
In its early stages, Devic's disease may be confused with multiple sclerosis (MS). In the past, Devic's disease was sometimes considered a severe variant of MS.
Devic's disease occurs as a result of malfunctioning of the body's immune system. In most cases, the underlying trigger for this is not known. In a few cases, Devic's disease has occurred in association with certain infectious conditions.
Most people who have Devic's disease experience clusters of attacks months or years apart, followed by partial recovery during periods of remission.
Most affected individuals experience a moderate degree of permanent limb weakness. Muscle weakness can cause breathing difficulties.
There is no cure for this disease but there are therapies to treat an attack while it is happening, reduce symptoms, and prevent relapses.
Read about recently published research on this disease.