Saturday, June 13, 2009

YES, I have MS

My first blog...what is the theme of my blog? Let's see. Thinking. How about ME.

YES, I have MS. But, it appears it is a milder MS than some. It is relapse/remitting, as the doc says; certainly not to be taken lightly. My symptoms are not advanced. I can see, although it was my vision that first caused me to go to the doc. My vision gets what I call 'wonky'. The eyes start wandering a bit, well, at least one of them does. And, not all the time. I also experience numbness and fatigue in my legs, but I am still active and I try to do all the things I used to do. My abilities are impaired compared to what I was like just a few years ago. Although, I am certain that I have had MS for a long time without realizing it...probably 20 years or more.

Anyways, my eyes had acted like that about a year earlier and it went away then, so not really caring for a visit to the doctor's office, I forgot all about it. Then, the next time, after a year, and I thought, 'again', maybe I need glasses. It didn't take that doc long to get on the right trail. She said I needed an MRI. That sounded serious enough that I scheduled a trip to the MRI store the next day.

A day later, I get a call and there is a suspicious lesion on the MRI and the eye-doc tells me I should see a neurologist. So, not wasting any time, next thing I know, I have a copy of my MRI and I'm looking at it at home before I see the neurologist, and it is plain to see...there is something there. Now, I have a history of cancer, having had a melanoma-positive mole about 10 years earlier. So, the immediate concern was cancer. The neurologist confirmed that, but he was not eager to dive in, it seemed, so I sought a second and third opinion.

Brain biopsy was the consensus decision, and in less than two weeks I was strapped to a state-of-the-art operating table having a hole bored into my skull and a needle inserted into the largest of the suspect lesions. The on-site pathologist saw no cancer, but did see demylenation. In the blink of an eye, my life expectancy went from six months to whenever. So, I found out that a sample of your brain will not allow a neurologist to diagnose you with MS, even though, that is what I was told it PROBABLY was.

Seems there is a torture protocol invloved in the diagnosis of MS that includes a spinal tap and my doc was intent on seeing that I didn't miss out on that. This was the longest of all the processes as it turned out...the OFFICIAL diagnosis. Multiple MRI's, counting of lesions, positive spinal tap, and finally the diagnosis. I was ready to start the treatment, but which doc and I decided on Betaseron...then I had to wait to get APPROVED for the treatment. When it was all done, I felt like I had been INITIATED into a club or some sort of fraternity, with all of the hazing INCLUDED!

So, as I said, my MS is mild, but that is not to say it does not affect me. I think the mental and emotional toll is the worst of my symptoms. The fact that I can't run and jump like I used to can easily be written off as getting older. It was only a few years ago that I could still jump and get above a basketball rim. That is history now. One of the things I have noticed and I don't know if this is MS or if I am just a wuss. I find myself tearing up when I am watching TV, viewing a tender moment or an exciting sports victory. I watched the movie Seven Pounds, and I swear, I cried from start to finish. Took me three days to recover from that experience. I have talked to friends and family about that movie and some couldn't understand why I would cry over it. Hmmm...maybe I am a wuss...

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