Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just the Facts

I've stepped off my soapbox today to finally get on with my story.

I was diagnosed with MS 6 years ago. If you read my bio, you know that the year I turned 40 was a rather dramatic year for a lot of different reasons. I self-diagnosed myself with MS in the spring and was finally able to get a doctor to test me, confirm that I did indeed to get an MRI and the final diagnosis...You have MS later that fall. Really? Seriously? Isn't that what I was hinting at all along?

I had optic neuritis in my 20's. That alone should set off all kinds of bells, and whistles. But no. In the spring I noticed that I kept having weird spasms in my right leg and if I went for a walk, after a couple of blocks my leg started to drag. And I couldn't run anymore. I looked like a pirate with a wooden leg hobbling down the sidewalk. I thought I just needed new sneakers. Needless to say the sneakers didn't help. But everyone kept telling me...'Oh no, you couldn't possibly have MS.' Did I mention I'm of Eastern European descent, and live in Upstate NY where the MS rate is extremely high? I'm guessing most of you out there would have come to the same conclusion as I did.

But wait, there's more...I love to ride my bike and decided to do a 40 mile ride to earn money for Diabetes. At one of the rest stops my right leg ceased to exist. Like it was totally asleep. Finally I got the feeling back in my leg and finished the ride. Called my doctor. I was told...'Come in when it happens again.' I don't even quite know what to say about that response?!?!

So...still no appointment. Still no diagnosis. So I just plugged along and decided ironically to do a century ride for MS. 100 miles, just me, my bike, a really bad map and hoping that I wouldn't get lost and end up in Canada. I did get lost at least a couple of times. Brought my bike into a convenience store so I could use the bathroom (more about the bladder in another post). Had some issues with my leg which I ignored. I just ate a banana and off I went. And actually finished the ride. Hot. Sweaty. Limping. But I finished. And I have to say that it was one of the proudest moments in my life. I figured if I could ride 100 miles on my bike, I could do anything.

So once again I call my doctor. Actually my PA. She told me to come in. She actually did some tests to see what was up. She found that... I'm hyper-reflexive. (I like to think of myself as some kind of super hero.) I have clonis. (sp?) My right side is significantly weaker than my left. And I really needed to get an MRI.

If you've never had an MRI. I really don't recommend it. It's at least an hour spent in a tube with jackhammers thudding, whirring and pounding around your head, while you're freezing to death in one of those skimpy, ever so stylish blue hospital gowns. I never know whether to tie it in the front or back? And there's the injection to show contrast. I'm sure many of you have undergone this procedure and found it as entertaining as I did. NOT! They really should provide cocktails or a snack. It would make the experience that much nicer.

Twenty minutes after I got home from the MRI experience I received a call from my doctor. 'Unfortunately you have MS. ' 'You need to make an appointment with a neurologist.' Call over. Really?

Tomorrow...finding a neurologist with a good bedside manner.

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