My name is Chelsey Tucker. I’m 32 years old and I’m a native of Nashville, TN. I work full time as an artist- working with acrylics as my medium of choice. I’ve been married nearly 12 years and my husband and I have 5 beautiful children (ages 12,9,9,6 and 2). Our family is passionate about foster care and adoption- as all 5 of our children are adopted.
I began experiencing a bizarre collection of symptoms at the age of 20. Nearly a year after my symptoms began, I woke up with pain and vision loss in my left eye. I was soon diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and treated with disease modifying drugs for 11 years.
I experienced relapse after relapse on these DMD drugs and I had significant accumulation of disability with each relapse.
In February 2019, I lost vision in both of my eyes (Bi-lateral optic neuritis) for the 4th time, however this relapse was significantly more aggressive than the previous ones I had experienced. It was then discovered that I did not in fact have MS. After additional scans and further testing, it was determined that I had a rare autoimmune disease called Neuromyelitis Optica or NMO.
During the last 11 years, I have also been diagnosed with POTS Syndrome and secondary Raynaud’s Phenomena.
I am permanently blind in my left eye and I have minimal vision in my right eye. After this most recent relapse, I have lost most all color vision as well.
I can no longer drive long distances and everything requires a significant amount of time to complete. POTS syndrome is unpredictable and I never know when I’m going to have a flare up. I also struggle with Raynaud’s phenomenon in my extremities, which is very painful.
After losing my eye sight, I began to paint. Art has been extremely therapeutic for me and in many ways, I believe it is a gift that has been given to me. I feel like art is my prayer of gratitude back to God and I am so thankful to have been given such a gift.
I struggle with fatigue, balance and stamina currently.
When I lost my eye sight, I thought life would not be worth living anymore. I was so upset that I would never be able to see my children’s faces again and I was scared and worried when I thought about trying to adjust my life around my new found physical limitations.
What I’ve come to realize is that even though my eyes don’t see as they used to, I still have a very clear vision for my life and I know I can navigate this disease no matter what comes my way.
Find Chelsey | @chelseytuckerart