MS Diagnoses and a New Beginning
Most, if not all of us, have traveled down this mystery journey asking "what is happening to us physically." Our road varies as our bodies react so differently making this trip challenging and frustrating. Even more concerning, is how puzzling it can be for our medical professionals to determine the cause.
Adjustment became my standard
Our road can be a short one, or a long frustrating and challenging one. Like most, when my symptom’s advanced, I contributed the loss of rhythm, balance, vision, to growing older and the bodies decline in physical ability. Like some of us, I would adjust, and my adjustment would then become my standard.
In 2004, it became very apparent to me that it was not natural aging. I finally decided it was time to seek medical help and determine what was happening. My decision began a five-year journey of research and unusual diagnoses at the end.
My diagnoses journey
My first stop was a visit to my Family Doctor to discuss what I have been experiencing. Our discussion defined several test and specialist to determine the cause of my lightheadedness, vision blurriness balance issues, and strange feeling in both legs. Our approach would include visiting an ENT, Ophthalmologist, my Cardiologist and a Neurologist.
Test results from the ENT determined there were issues with my eye tracking and a left ear signal loss. Ear signal loss might very well cause my balance problem. Encouraging news, I thought, we may have found a piece to the puzzle.
Next, I visited my Ophthalmologist. After a few tests, he suspected optic neuritis had occurred at some point in the past, and Uhthoffs syndrome could cause my vision blurriness. Again, test results were encouraging, we may figure this out. Over the next three years, I completed my visit with a Physical therapist for balance and inner ear issues. A cardiologist for possible blood pressure and blood oxygen levels due to my AFIB. Next, off to the Neurologist who discovered neuropathy in both legs. Several Brain MRI's which indicated "all clear." Then, maybe it was vitamin B12 level, so off for a year of B12 injections. All to no avail and back to square one.
Learning about MS
While discussing my test results with a friend, she suggested I talk to her cousin who has similar physical challenges After a lengthy discussion comparing physical changes, he mentioned a diagnosis of MS fifteen years ago. Having no knowledge of what MS was, how it occurs, I read as much about MS as I could.
Making a plan
After learning about MS, I ordered copies of my last six years of medical records. The first step was organizing my visits, test and test results chronologically. I then researched each symptom and linked the sign either to or not to MS. Surprisingly, eighty percent of my symptoms could be associated with MS. Keep in mind, my MRI’s were clear or apparently clear per the radiologist.
At that point, I scheduled an appointment with my Neurologist. I discussed my research and MS. He agreed my symptoms were similar. However, he was sure it was not MS. We discussed various test to rule out MS and decided a spinal tap would be best.
Finally, a diagnosis
Spinal tap did indicate a possibility of MS. He suggested and referred me to University of Colorado MS research center to review and analyze my records. After completing a new MRI, comparing prior year MRI results and analysis of my medical records, which included Optic Neuritis and Uthoffs, a diagnosis of MS was validated.
Shocking or new beginning
For most, a diagnosis of MS is shocking and earth shattering. Understandable for sure. My visit to the MS Center to discuss my diagnosis was a relieve. My mindset, "finally we know, now, what treatment approach can we take."
Yes, MS is life changing for all of us. Our life as we knew it had changed forever. The question is, will we view life as, a "New Beginning." As much as we struggle with MS, we can still live a productive and happy life.
Will it be a challenge, yes? Will it push us to our limits, yes? Will it take every bit of our strength, perseverance, patients, absolutely it will! Where do we go from here, how can we deal with this and what does the future hold?
How I'm coping
I’ll share how I’m dealing with the challenge we all face. Maybe it will help some, might not help others. You might agree or you might not. At least we can share insight, approaches and hopefully help each other to be successful.
MS has refocused my vision of life. I wake each day to enjoy the simple things in life I have missed along the way. A morning sunrise or sunset is each uniquely filled with beautifully vibrant and ever changing colors.
Seasonal variations from spring to summer, fall, then winter, changes the landscape and has its unique beauty. Visiting new places and standing silently to take in people moving about, building architecture, sounds and just simply watching life.
Is it easy to look at the positive and refocus, no, we all feel down and out from time to time? It’s a natural reaction to unpleasant news for the future. How can we overcome the overwhelming feeling that can consume us?
Find the things you love
I have found taking an internal inventory of what is good in life forces me to focus on the good. Family, good friends, a place to live, food on the table, helping others, waking up every day. As a friend once told me, she wakes each day with a goal of doing a good deed. Now that is positive, helping others no matter what is happening.
Yes, it isn't easy, yet we can impact our future by shaping our mind and thoughts in a positive fashion. I challenge you to exude confidence, shape the future and embrace life in a good light. Wishing all my fellow MSer the very best now and going forward!
Three keys to remember; be proactive regarding your health care, a positive attitude feels right within, and yes, it does rub off on those around you!
How many specialists did you see before finding "The One"?