Anqunette Jamison: MS made it hard to do my job, mind would play tricks on me
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) - FOX 2 News Morning anchor Anqunette Jamison was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013, but says she was likely suffering symptoms for 10 years before that. Her mental and physical health have declined, making it hard to keep up with the everyday demands of being a TV news anchor.
"I thought that I could do a few more years at this job, but in February I suffered a relapse," she admits. She went on medical leave shortly after that before ultimately deciding to retire.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. It's not known right now what causes it.
Q says her MS hasn't necessarily affected her mobility, but it's definitely affected her mind. She's especially noticed short-term memory loss.
"It's difficult to do this job when you're afraid you may forget what you're saying as you're saying it. Also, my mind plays tricks on me," she says. "I call people names and it's not their name. I called Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dr. Carson. I know the difference. So, it's strange because a lot of times you won't even know that you're making those types of mistakes."
She says her symptoms became so strong that she couldn't even be at work for 8 hours a day.
"At 10:30 in the morning, I would go home with a headache and a stomachache and I would get in bed, and that was my day. Every single day," she says.
Eventually, Q put her health first and went on medical leave in April 2016.
She says now that she's not working at FOX 2, she's able to rest more and focus on keeping her diet healthy. She is fatigued very often, and she compares the fatigue to how tired she felt after completing a marathon. She's ran two.
"Your body is depleted. I wake up tired," she says. "I used to be able to run marathons and now I have to take a rest break walking up my steps."
She says her decision to ultimately retire was tough to make. She admits her family and loved ones would always call her, asking her, 'Have you quit your job yet?', knowing that she'd feel better and less stressed once she did. She's wanted to be a morning news anchor since she was in second grade so it was tough giving up her dream.
She still has plans to stay active in the community, though.
Q wants to help lower costs of prescription medications for MS patients.
"I basically went from nothing to becoming a $100,000-a-year patient. My MS drugs were $70,000," she says. She was taking a number of medications and injections to quell her symptoms, but then would have to take additional drugs to help with the side-effects. At one point, she was up to 80 mg of adderall a day, which she says is four times the usual dose.
Still, she was feeling symptoms. Her nausea and vomiting became so bad that she went to the hospital multiple times.
Eventually, she was led to medical marijuana and her nausea went away almost instantaneously, and she says that nothing has since helped better.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Michigan, but Q is joining the fight to legalize marijuana across the board. She has taken a leadership role in the marijuana legalization campaign with MI Legalize.
She says, after talking with people in the MS community, that many patients use medical marijuana.
"If we want to go on vacation, though, we can't fly with marijuana. We can't fly with an edible cookie," she says.
She also believes the war on drugs disproportionately affects communities of color, and that it has caused an incarceration epidemic that hasn't served our country well. She also believes people with other ailments, such as cancer, can benefit from marijuana as well.
If you'd like more information on MI Legalize's marijuana legalization campaign, visit www.milegalize.com/2018.
You can also follow Q in retirement and reach out to her on her Facebook page.