I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journey to a Diagnosis

My journey started on April 8, 2010.  My husband and I were flying to North Carolina to meet our new twin nieces and I began to notice a pain right behind my right eye.  It was as though the pain was in the nerve or muscle at the back of my right eyeball.  I also noticed some blurred vision.  I thought there was a problem with my contacts so I wore my glasses the entire weekend in North Carolina.  When we got home, I had a doctor's appointment scheduled on the 13th.  At the appointment, I mentioned the eye pain and my doctor told me to see my eye doctor.  On April 15th, I saw my eye doctor regarding the pain and blurred vision.  She ran a gamut of tests and we tried some eye drops for a week.  On April 20th, I returned to the eye doctor after no relief with the eye drops.  She ran some more tests, then ordered an MRI of my brain.  That sounded scary so I asked what she was looking for and she told me that the worst was MS.  That was extremely hard to hear, but I convinced myself that there was no way that I had MS.  On April 30th, I had an MRI of my brain done and the eye pain had almost disappeared by that time.  About a week later, I was told that the MRI was "unremarkable."  The eye pain was gone by then and I began to think it was all just a fluke.
Then, on May 11, 2010, I began to notice numbness in my toes (which would spread into my shins at time, especially when I took showers) and a difficulty walking that was really difficult to explain and comprehend (it felt as though I had butterflies in my stomach and somehow they prevented me from walking; it seemed as though the message to walk wasn't getting from my brain to my legs, but was causing a nervous feeling in my stomach).  I also noticed that if I got worked up about it or got (actually) nervous, the severity would increase.  I began to do a lot of online research at this time and every time I had a new symptom, I would look it up and the one thing that kept coming up was MS (other possibilities showed up, but nothing that fit as well as MS).  I didn't want to believe that this was MS, especially after being told that my brain MRI was unremarkable.
After experiencing the numbness for about a week or so, I went back to the doctor.  She referred me to a neurologist, but the appointment was about a month away.  In the meantime, I started to see a chiropractor, hoping a pinched nerve was the problem.  About two weeks after starting to see the chiropractor, the numbness had gone away - I was so relieved and very optimistic that a pinched nerve was the culprit.  I was still have some difficulty walking, but it didn't seem to be as bad.  With such great results, I decided to cancel the appointment with the neurologist.  By the end of July, I felt "normal" again.
Then, in early August, I began to notice a tingling sensation when I lowered my head (chin to chest).  I later would learn that this phenomenon is called L'Hermittes (a common symptom of MS).  On August 18th, my thighs were experiencing pretty severe numbness.  At that point, I stopped going to the chiropractor, went back to the doctor and asked for a new referral to the neurologist ASAP.  The doctor also ordered an MRI of my lower back in hopes that there was a slipped disc or something causing pressure on a nerve.
On September 8, 2010, I saw the neurologist for the first time.  I hand-carried discs with my MRIs as well as the radiologist's report from the brain MRI.  I went to the doctor's office expecting to have some tests run and did not think that I would learn anything regarding a diagnosis that day.  I still knew MS was a good possibility.  After an exam, the neurologist went off to look at the MRIs.  When he came back, he told me that the brain MRI was NOT unremarkable.  He asked what I had been told as far as possible diagnoses.  I told him that I knew the worst was MS and I prepared myself to hear that I'd been diagnosed with MS.  The neurologist nodded his head and confirmed my fear.  He told me that we caught it early, showed me the lesions on my brain on the MRI, and explained the next steps (choosing a therapy, etc).
That is, essentially, my journey from April 8th to September 8th that led to my diagnosis.  I have Multiple Sclerosis.

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