Finding Multiple Strengths in Multiple Sclerosis: Felicia Trammell’s Story
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Felicia Trammell participated in a medical research study to find symptom relief and to empower herself and others.
Felicia Trammell has a knack for connecting with others, so her job in insurance as a field agent was a perfect fit. She got to stay active and to interact with people. So when she had to put her career on pause due to severe leg pain and stiffness, she knew she had to take action.
“I was really struggling,” Felicia explains. “My right knee was always hurting and stiff. I would try to push through, but that’s when I realized there was something else going on.”
In 2018, Felicia and her neurologist identified the source of her symptoms: multiple sclerosis (MS). Her diagnosis led her to Shepherd Center’s Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Institute and the Ensemble Research Study, which focused on newly diagnosed relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and the medication ocrelizumab, an infusion therapy used to slow the progression of MS. “By the grace of God”, Felicia says, she filled the final available spot for the study, under the care of Sherrill Loring, M.D., a neurologist at the MS Institute, and the clinic staff.
“They treated me like a queen!” Felicia says. “There were long days, especially when I first got there. So, they would get me breakfast and get me all set up on the pump. They were always so kind, attentive, and willing to do anything to make me more comfortable.”
As the study continued, Felicia’s days at Shepherd Center got shorter, and her symptoms slowly began to wane. Today, Felicia still visits Shepherd Center and Dr. Loring for follow-up appointments every six months, with a virtual visit in between.
“Now when Dr. Loring asks me to put my legs on the table, I can swing ‘em on up there,” she laughs. “Before, I wasn’t able to lift my legs or stand correctly, but now, I can get up and go! This medication has been a lifesaver for me.”
Four-year safety and efficacy data results for the Ensemble Research Study were presented at the 2023 American Academy of Neurology Conference in Boston.
“Ensemble clinical trial assessed Ocrevus in patients with early-stage relapsing remitting MS and with no prior treatment,” says Dr. Loring. “It showed stable or improved disability progression in majority patients up to the four years studied, no new safety concerns were seen and over two-thirds of patients showed no evidence of any disease activity. This emphasizes the extreme importance to treat early in course of disease with effective treatment to have the best outcome.”
While Felicia was unable to return to her active job in insurance, she has found new ways to get back on her feet. She runs a small business with her family called Quality by Khool Kustoms. Felicia creates crafts to sell online, including her very first t-shirt design for MS Awareness Month, displaying MS and “multiple strengths” complete with the MS awareness ribbon and trademark orange color.
“When people hear multiple sclerosis, they tend to cringe,” Felicia explains. “I wanted everyone to see MS not as a weakness, but as multiple strengths.”
You can check out more of Felicia’s designs on TikTok by using her handle: @khoolkustoms_merchlady.
Written by Lindsey Rieben.
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.