Multiple Sclerosis does not stop 28-year-old Stony Brook student from being free

When a veil was lifted from 28-year-old Mathew Ryerson’s eyes, it had nothing to do with a wedding. Instead, the Stony Brook University political science student got a fresh start in life. He was free to live again.

Ryerson graduated high school in 2005, but suffered from what at the time seemed like typical fatigue as his weight ballooned over 300 pounds. Little did he know that the fatigue was the least of his worries.

In the early days of 2009, he made a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night that led to a cycle of worrying, researching and fear. Ryerson’s right side went numb. He had no clue what was happening to him.

With no steady job and a last-second effort to enroll full-time at Suffolk County Community College in order to obtain health coverage shut down because of an outstanding bill, Ryerson had no choice.

He had to go to the hospital without health insurance.

After the neurologist on-call went over the Long Islander’s situation, the doctor’s initial evaluation would later turn into a confirmed reality: Ryerson had Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that affects the covering of nerves, which yields symptoms that include problems with muscle control, vision and balance.

Yet, after his first attempt at helping himself with self-injections caused more harm than good, Ryerson eventually found Tysabri, an infusion done once a month, which has changed his life for the better.

Ryerson still has moments where he has to sit in his car to wait for tremors in his hands to calm down. Every day may not be his best. But, the positive-minded Seawolf, who can often be seen and heard at Stony Brook athletic events, does not let it get to him.

Every time he steps into a classroom, all that is there is a professor and his goal of learning. Ryerson would say he was let out of a cage. He stepped out, turned around and locked the disease in it.


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