Paisley Powers Through Life-Changing Diagnosis of NMO

Updated: September 13, 2018 05:37 PM

Paisley Forsell loves fitness. She's considering a future in nutrition, as she prepares to go to school at Lake Superior College next semester. She also used to be a body builder, spending hours at the gym.


When she was lifting weights a year and a half ago, she noticed her fingers going numb. "I thought it was just a pinched nerve," she remembered. But then it slowly started going up her arm, and more. "My leg was going limp, my body was going numb. For three weeks, it was like what is going on with me, what's wrong?"

After many trips in and out of the hospital, she got her diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic: Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder, NMO for short. It's a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerves.

"Some people wake up and are blind, so I am grateful for every day," Paisley told us. She's healing, but still has chronic pain, fatigues easily, and even a cold can be dangerous.

There's no cure, but Paisley has been on medication and gets infusion treatments. The medication left her with a painful side effect in her knees, Avascular Necrosis. "It was sharp pains. Now they feel inflamed all the time." She's had two double knee surgeries, and could have to have more.

Thanks to therapy and hard work, she has regained the use of her right hand again. But she still qualifies for having a handicap tag for her car. She wishes people wouldn't judge her, when they see her parking in those spots. "When you see me walking, unless it's a bad day and I'm limping, I look fine. I am a young girl, pulling into a handicap spot, and people eye me down, like what the heck?"

Paisley and her family are hoping for more awareness and understanding about the disease, which is similar to Multiple Sclerosis. They say it's not easily recognized in the health care field. 

Still, she doesn't let this keep her down. "There's no point in having a bad attitude about it. We find things to laugh about. They key is being happy with your life."

There is a benefit for Paisley on Saturday, at The Other Place in Woodland. Bean bags start at 4pm, pasta bar at 6pm, and live music at 9pm.

You can also donate to her GoFundMe page:

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