Multiple sclerosis, Nick, What was I thinking?

Competing diagnoses

The week I wound up in the hospital began on a Sunday when we went to a friend’s house for an afternoon gathering and I was so weak I sat the whole time, which isn’t like me.

I thought I might be coming down with something. And that’s when we came up with Diagnosis #1: The flu.

As the week progressed, I regressed to the point where I was having trouble walking and putting on clothes. But there were no other flu symptoms. Not the flu.

Went to my usual doctor on Wednesday. I complained about the recent spill I had taken on a muddy sidewalk, because we thought it might be related.

Diagnosis #2: A pinched nerve.

On Thursday I had what will henceforth be known as The Big Fall. To the ER we went.

Of course, you have to list practically your entire medical history for these things. And anything that might be  connected to the condition, however tenuous.

So began the Why is Jenn Messed Up Theory Free-for-all.

From my mother: It was all that neck and back and joint popping. I told her to stop doing that. (Diagnosis #3)

From Nick: You know, she’s been slathering on that new Bath & Body Works stuff like there’s no tomorrow. What if it seeped into her skin and she’s having an allergic reaction to it? (Diagnosis #4)

A side note: The Lemon Vanilla summer scent is sooooo yummy. I wanted to eat my arms it smells so good. Please, B&B Works, keep it around!

From my mother: Epilepsy-related. (I had it when I was younger after an accident, but had “grown out of it.”) (Diagnosis #5)

From me: As a flexitarian, maybe I’m not getting enough protein in my diet. Nor do I eat enough bananas for potasssium. (Diagnosis #6)

From the hospital neurologist: It could be MS, but it could also be West Nile (Diagnosis #7) or a host of other things. We have to do lots and lots of tests, including a spinal tap (Ack! This deserves a post unto itself.).

Except for him were all pretty tied to our particular theories. Nevermind that earlier in the summer, I had gone through a 4-week period of optic neuritis. In about half of the cases, it’s the first sign of multiple sclerosis.

I think we might have been in denial.

Diagnosing multiple sclerosis isn’t easy. For some people, it can take years because symptoms are so random and come and go. And there’s no definitive “You have MS” test. Essentially, doctors have to rule out a lot of other things before coming to the MS conclusion.

It took a summer for my diagnosis, and for that I am forever grateful. A quicker diagnosis means treatment begins earlier.

Although when I think back, there are little health issues here and there over the past five years that were so transient and seemed so minor that I never told them to anyone, but that now make sense in the bigger picture. Those include quick little electric pulses when I was in a certain position, darkening of vision and muscle stiffness at odd times.

So here’s my little bit of advocacy: There’s nothing too small to discuss with your doctor. Don’t go Google crazy with symptoms. You’ll only scare yourself.

Which reminds me of Diagnosis #8: Brain tumor. (I didn’t link this one for a reason.)

12 thoughts on “Competing diagnoses”

  1. it’s funny….

    now that i’ve been diagnosed… thinking back of all the little things… the ones that i blew off…or the ones that made me go see a doc and got the response “let’s just keep an eye on it, see what happens”… all those things were MS all along! damn!

    i can go all the way back to the age of 17 and come up with this junk. i think i had my first fall at the age of 18… amazing…

    1. I know! I’ve fallen lots of times, but I chalked that up to my overall clumsiness. I think it was 23 or 24 when I really started noticing a pattern. Weird…

  2. I have OCD – I over diagnose EVERYTHING!

    I also just wanted to say that admire you attitude towards your situation. You are a very sweet and loving person and basically – YOU ROCK!
    luv, ya!

  3. I’m grateful for a (fairly) quick diagnosis as well. Not knowing what is wrong is scary! Knowing what is wrong is scary, too! But I admire your strength to write about this so we can all sort of understand how you’re processing things. We all want to be here for you whenever you need us!

    1. Thanks, my dear. I think the writing is how I process it all. Until I get it out there, it’s just a jumble of thoughts rattling around in my brain.

  4. Mom’s are all nuts (Sorry, Beth. But it is true. Tell me yours wasn’t?).

    And Nick can be an idiot (Sorry, Nick. But you know it is true).

    Pop your joints & rub your lotion to your heart’s content (that sounds grosser than I had intended).

    You are beautiful. You are loved. Everything else is just filler.

    Don’t let the scary monsters under the bed tell you anything different.

    1. Moms are crazy. But they say it’s their children who make them that way. If that’s true, it was totally the second child who did it in our cases. Ha!

  5. Nick’s is my favorite. Sounds like something Damon would say. And yes the summer vanilla’s are to die for. My favorite is Berry Vanilla.

    1. Mine, too. I laughed so hard when he said that. Although, at the rate I was using the stuff, it wasn’t that far-fetched.

  6. I hate google. I’ve not been feeling well the past week. I’ve been an IBS sufferer since childhood and now I’m convinced this latest bout is stomach cancer. But then again, I don’t really think so, and feel it stupid to go to the doctor only to hear him say, take some zantac again. After the past year, I’m not really a big fan of doctors.

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