Get Down With The Sickness

by Kate

“Don’t borrow trouble” is something my mom says to me when I’m worrying about something I have no control over. It means that it’s silly to stress out about things before you know what you’re up against. I think it’s a pretty good idea, but it doesn’t always work.

At the beginning of summer this year, I started having weird symptoms. Some of them could be dismissed as symptoms of known or suspected illnesses, but all of them together seemed like something I should pay attention to.

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Strange visual disturbances (flashes of light)
  • Minor aphasia (words coming out jumbled or incorrect)
  • Minor ataxia (lack of coordination, especially in my right hand)
  • Confusion
  • Inattention/lack of focus
  • Short-term memory loss

This was in addition to the joint pain, headaches, stomach issues, and other assorted FUN! things I always have going on. The above symptoms were either new or worsened.

The extra-alarming thing about all these symptoms is that I’d experienced them back in early 2012. At the time I blamed them on the car accident I’d had in November of 2011, and my neurologist diagnosed me with Post-Concussion Syndrome.

PCS doesn’t reappear 3.5 years later. I have had no recent head trauma. So it’s gotta be something else, and it’s not a coincidence.

I’m still having that FUN! assortment of symptoms, but with some new, exciting ones too!

  • Shaky legs
  • Worsening lack of coordination in both hands
  • Dizziness
  • I’m spacey pretty much all the time
  • Petichiae (clusters of burst blood vessels under the skin)

Those who know me might think I’m something of a hypochondriac, but this isn’t true. I just happen to often be hyperaware of any weird things going on in my body because I have so much annoying shit wrong with me already. I might unnecessarily jump to conclusions, but I don’t diagnose myself off WebMD. I talk to real doctors, I research things, and I don’t “borrow trouble.”

…but I’ve had my suspicions on this one. And it’s because of The West Wing. Yes, the TV show that ran from 1999-2007. It’s a really great show, you should watch it.

Martin Sheen plays an idealized president. It’s unrealistic and wonderful. Anyway, fairly early into the show (maybe the beginning of season two?) we find out that President Bartlet has a chronic, incurable disease. It causes a bunch of crises and good TV drama. Yay.

It planted an idea in my head.

But I try not to borrow trouble.

I’m trying to get disability. I went and got evaluated by a doctor last week as part of that (long, arduous) process, and when I told him my symptoms, he asked…

“Have you ever been screened for multiple sclerosis?”

Nope.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking too.

I have an appointment with a neurologist in two weeks. I am not panicking, or not much. I am trying not to borrow trouble. But I’ve done a LOT of reading, and… damn. It sure sounds like MS. There are plenty of other things it could be. But none of them fit quite like MS does.

It could also be a brain tumor! I wouldn’t prefer a brain tumor.

It could not, however, be “nothing,” as someone recently suggested. This is not “nothing.” Trust me.  Something is wrong, and I have a feeling it’s going to change my life in ways I can’t yet predict.

I don’t know what’s wrong yet. I am trying not to panic. But every night I find myself researching MS, learning how it’s diagnosed and treated, wondering how it’ll affect my life, whether it’ll be mostly annoying or totally devastating. It manifests differently for everyone, it seems. Some are inconvenienced. Some are crippled.

I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep.

They’ll do blood tests, and probably an MRI, and probably a spinal tap. Those are to rule things out more than anything else, because there’s no definitive test for MS in a living patient. They can find indicators, but they can’t prove it. It’s just an educated guess. Which will probably involve a spinal tap. I am not looking forward to the spinal tap.

I’m not really looking for advice right now. Since I don’t know what I’m up against, I don’t know how to fight it yet. But I think I’m going to buy a day planner to keep track of my health, mood, level of activity, food intake, and other related things.

I also don’t really want to be told to keep my chin up. This is scary and I’m being as brave as I know how to be.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted as I find out more.

Love,

Kate

 

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