GUEST BLOG: LaDana Gaddis

My name is LaDana Gaddis. I am a mother of two wonderful and fun-loving children. My daughter, Briana, is a beautiful, and caring spirit both inside and out. My son, Stephaun, is as handsome as he is charming. Jeff, my husband, has been my guy for almost 30 years. After the diagnosis of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) in January 2009, our lives have never been the same. One thing is certain, the disease has brought our family closer and it has taught me to fight and be my own advocate in many situations. Although my love of shopping and cooking has slowed some it has not stopped.

Bruised not broken…
Being diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) may not have been the worse life altering experience that I have had along this now six (6) year journey. Being put before doctor after doctor who had no idea of what was going on seems to have been worse now that I look back over the years. I was beginning to feel like just another number or better yet a lab rat running on a wheel may be a better explanation.

Cars is one of my favorite movies. Yet, every time I think of the movie I feel sad and all of the emotions that I have had with NMO come flowing over me like a hot shower on a cold winters day. My symptoms began in November 2006 andmy father was visiting from out of town, for his birthday. As a family, we’d had a wonderful dinner and sat down to watch the fun, family movie. All of a sudden both eyes seemed painfully dry. Having had Lasik eye surgery earlier in the year I dismissed the symptom as nothing more than issues associated with the surgery.

Making an eye appointment with an optometrist was just the beginning of appointments with a pool of doctors to come. I saw many Physicians who not only did not know how to treat me, but would not surrender and do what was best for me and recommend me to a Specialist. Over the next two (2) years I was faced with: multiple small visual attacks followed by high doses of steroids, being labeled with an idiopathic condition, brain MRIs, co pay after co pay, being offered behavioral health, mental and emotional stress, disappointment, frustration, anger, fear of completely losing my sight and wondering if the hell that I was living in would ever end.

Today, I live with very limited sight and daily pain. The pain is due to nerve damage (neuropathy). Now, after three years of living with chronic pain, I resigned to believing that I am use to this way of life. But really, could anyone be use to living with chronic pain? Sometimes, when the mind believes that there is no end in sight what is one to think?

Life today is filled with hope and faith that a cure for this horrible disease will be available soon. As well, I am truly looking forward to finding out more about nerve repair (stem cell) and how it will affect my vision and ultimately change my life.

Oct 2012


  1. Lois Brabston

    Thanks for posting. For me, fear of the unknown is the worst thing. Right now, I am doing well. I just don’t know what the future holds and that frightens me.

    Comment by Lois Brabston on October 29, 2012 at 1:37 am

  2. Jenna

    Hi Lois,

    Thanks for your message. All NMO patients live with the fear of unknown but we find strength in talking about it with each other and living life to the fullest. Be well!


    Comment by Jenna on October 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

  3. Jarvis Chisolm

    LaDana, I don’t think I have the words to express how deeply your story touches one soul. My daughter Skyler suffers with one of the rearest medical conditions on the planet. Believe me i understand what you mean when you ask yourself how soon will your hell end. I love you and i’m constanly praying for you. Talk to you later cousin.

    Comment by Jarvis Chisolm on December 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

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