Life with MS

Transforming MS Pain Into Music, Art

By Marc Peters

My name is Marc, and I am a beat maker and graphic designer from Richmond, Va. My story begins on Dec. 18, 2009, the last day of fall finals at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. All of my classmates and I were in the WRTC lab pushing to finish a coding final that was due that day. Although we were hard at work, I had one of the best times I ever had in college in that room, surrounded by friends I made during the past three years. I arrived home that evening, so grateful to be on winter break, sleep in my own bed, and be home with my mother. I didn’t know Dec. 19 would be the day that changed my life forever.

I woke up to a massive sinus infection that no amount of medication would cure. The cold drifted away in the beginning of January, but the sickness came back a few weeks later. This time I lost vision in my left eye. A week later, I experienced loss of balance and memory.

JMU Health Center doctors were not sure what was wrong with me and thought I had an ear infection or some form of vertigo. Over-the-counter vertigo medications, such as Dramamine®, made me feel worse. I felt like I didn’t have my final semester of college – no recreation, parties, or anything outside of my dorm. Most of my professors didn’t understand why I emailed that I was sick every other day. The only professor that really understood was my WTRC counselor and professor Lucy Bednar. She made my life so much easier.

There were so many issues I had during the last three months of school. I lost a lot of personality traits. It was hard to walk, speak, and just feel normal. It felt like one day I woke up and was a completely different person. I had to remember how to walk, talk, and hold conversations with people again. I knew I had my work cut out, but just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I just made the best of every day and did my best to relearn things while trying to earn my final course credits so I could graduate on time. I cherished my last days at JMU and made the best of what I had there.

I made it to graduation on May 8, 2010, and walked across the stage to receive my diploma. I was so happy that I graduated from a major university. When I came home to Richmond for the summer, I had chest pains and went to the local ER. Everything tested fine, yet I still had no idea what was wrong with me. The ER referred me to the ear, nose, and throat doctor, and then, the ENT referred me to the neurologist, who referred me to get an MRI in September 2010.

That summer, the rise of Rap musician Drake had a serious affect on my life. In 2010, with promo for his first album, Thank Me Later, MTV did a documentary Better Than Good Enough. Drake said he would quit music if Noah “40” Shebib died because of his MS. I used Google to understand what MS stood for and found the term multiple sclerosis. I realized I had every beginning symptom for MS: blurry vision in one eye, vertigo, tiredness, and so on. In October 2010 when my first neurologist, Dr. White, called me in for the diagnosis, I finally found out what was wrong with me.

From 2010 to 2014, I have been on the medication Rebif, which is a self-injection I perform three times a week. The pain threshold gets better as the months pass. I’ve been denied partial social security three or four times in the past three years, so I live to create my own future through music and art. I’ve been making music since 2005 and blogging since 2008. From 2010 to 2012, I produced and designed my artwork for my instrumental mixtapes and created a website called “Champion Since.” I always try to use my MS situation and turn that pain into a positive digital form. Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis for me means I can lose the use of any limb for a few seconds or permanently. Being positive and creative is my way of fighting through all the negativity. 

I put my pain and everything I have into my music and designs and create what was once negative into a positive. I want to inspire people to understand that they too can make it through their tough situations as long as they remain positive and stay true to what they believe in. I hope my story can help those that need help themselves. Sometimes the inspiration you need is right in front of your face. Don’t give up. Your eyes will notice the signs when the timing is right.