I am reading a book which includes a history of Montel Williams. All of a sudden, the narrative reads: “A freak medical accident during his last year (at the U.S.Naval Academy) ruined Montel’s plans to return to the Marines after graduation. He was one of one hundred seniors who received the wrong dose of an immunization. His severe reaction landed him in the hospital for two and a half weeks and cost him the vision in his left eye.” (From the book, “The Common Thread”). Then, it talks about Montel’s MS!!!!! So, I got on the internet and found an interview with Montel. I am posting this salient part:
WebMD Live Events Transcript
Montel Williams faces challenges everyday in his role as an award-winning talk show host. But none compare with the challenge of living day-to-day with MS – multiple sclerosis. He joined us on March 8 to talk about his fight against MS.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests’ alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
Welcome to WebMD Live, Montel. Thank you for joining us today. Our audience has a great number of questions for you.
Thank you so much for having me and giving me this opportunity to share what really is my personal journey with MS. I’m hoping the people that are on to ask questions recognize that my book Climbing Higher isn’t just about people who suffer from MS, it’s about people suffering from any chronic deadly illness and the people who love them.
How old were you when you had your first symptom, looking back?
Like so many of us, and I believe the number is somewhere around 45% to 50%, you can check this through your doctor, our initial symptoms are first in the vision or visual acuity. About four months before I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980, and it just so happened to be coincident with my precommissioning inoculations (before you graduate from the Academy you have to receive all your immunizations to travel around the world), coincident with my diphtheria and typhoid shots, for whatever reason, it triggered my first MS bout. I lost 80% vision in my left eye and was put on medical hold on the military because they thought I would be blind in one eye. My commission was held up when I graduated, because at that moment I was not qualified to become a naval officer.
I then saw doctors from the Naval Academy, Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval Hospital and Johns Hopkins, none of whom could determine the etiology of my loss of vision. No one at the time even speculated MS, because if you look back, this was 1980 and back then, the disease was only associated with Caucasian females of northern European descent, and here I was a 22-year-old African-American male and at that point 100% in great shape. MS was the farthest thing from any doctor’s mind.