I Didn't Know I Was... MS'D?Of all the things I have learned to expect out of life, this was not on my list of predictable conclusions. Life tends to test your strength and set up obstacle courses to make you doubt how much you have, and when you feel like you have had enough and you just want to give up, somehow, by some miracle, we all pull through.
It all started 3 weeks ago when I started my first week of the spring semester. Sitting in my Chemistry class, I remember reading the class syllabus (conveniently printed on highlighter yellow colored paper) and seeing the words disappear in a certain spot in the center of my vision in my left eye. No pain at all whatsoever though. This was very strange to me but I didn't really think anything of it since I am very nearsighted, and have issues with my glasses/eyeballs/contacts often enough. After this problem persisted until the next day, I made the decision to see my optometrist. After all, when there's something wrong with your eye you see an eye specialist (typically).
The doctor examined my eyes and ran a bunch of tests including the procedure where you get a picture taken of your retina to make sure that it is healthy. Puzzled, he couldn't find anything directly wrong with my eye, but did mention possible slight posterior vitreous attachment due to my high nearsighted presc
This spot was definitely not typical of a normal idea of a blind spot. It was not a black hole or anything like that. The best way for me to describe it is that it is like the sort of spot that occurs when you stare too long directly at the sun and have that bright green blur stuck in your vision for a few minutes afterwards. Except this little devil would not go away. It was about dime sized and really only affected my ability to read since it was in my central vision.
About 2 days later, I noticed that the blind spot in my left eye was slightly bigger and a small one had also started up in my right eye. So I was a good patient and called my eye doctor to see what I should do next. Nothing about the blind spot change really alarmed me. I still had zero pain and was in a pretty good mood. My eye doctor instructed me to go to the ER as soon as possible. Again, I didn't see this as urgent as he did. Why should I rush to the ER when I don't have any pain and my eyes aren't getting worse at an alarming rate?
In any case, I went to the ER with my boyfriend the following day just so I could get some sort of diagnosis and figure out what was going on. The ER doctor started with ordering a CT scan to view my occipital lobe, where the eyesight center of the brain is. I've had a CT scan before so I was relatively unconcerned about it all in general. After the scan as the radiologist walked me back to me room and asked me a bunch of odd questions... "When did you say your eye problems started?" "Who did you first see for your eye problems?" The questions themselves were not strange, the fact that they were placed AFTER the scan and the way she asked them made me start to raise some concern.
The ER doctor came in with the results after about an hour. "Your occipital lobe and optic nerve look just fine, but there is an area here," as he pointed to a spot near the top of my head in my right parietal lobe, "that I am a little concerned about. It may be a lesion, it may be a mass, it may be nothing, but I want to send you for an MRI on your brain because if you were my daughter, wife, sister, I would want the same for them as well. We just want to be sure."
I was worried. Very worried. My boyfriend could see it on my face. Also, I never received an MRI before and didn't know what to expect. Boy, was I in for a rude surprise. What a scary, loud awful machine that is. The headphones and music they gave me didn't drown out ANY of the machines squawks and screams. I couldn't be happier to get out of that awful tube and go back to the room where my boyfriend was waiting.
The ER doctor came in again with the results of the MRI. "We are going to have to keep you here overnight." I laughed. I thought he was joking with me. I wasn't in any pain and nothing was wrong other than my eyes. I had a smile on my face. "This isn't easy for me to be the one to tell you this, but your MRI showed 3 lesions that cause me to assume that you have MS. From this day forward, you have to change your lifestyle, your diet, your habits for the rest of your life. The neurologist will be in the morning and we would like to keep you so you can see him first thing in the morning." As I was listening to him say this, his voice floated farther away and got more quiet as if I was underwater. My smile melted off my face. I did not like how this news was broken to me... There isn't any reason why I should have to change my life as drastically as he said. They gave me my first steroid injection that night, and then 4 more days of it after that followed.
After a restless night in the hospital of not sleeping, I saw the neurologist at about 11am. I was so thankful that my boyfriend stayed with me in the hospital overnight. I could never have had the willpower to go through this all alone. My neurologist was young, very nice, and specialized in MS even having his own MS clinic downtown. He told me that he was informed of my "story" that morning and had a chance to view the MRI. He said that he didn't want to jump to any conclusions quite yet until more tests were run, he ordered blood tests and an MRI with contrast of my brain, and one with and one without contrast of my cervical spine. Great, more MRI's I thought to myself. This time though I asked for Ativan to deal with the annoyance.
The results of this MRI was clear. My cervical spine was free and clear, but my brain showed 3 active lesions and some old non-active lesions that suggest a past flare-up. Apparently there is no longer a dire need for a lumbar test to diagnose MS. An MRI that demonstrates active and non-active lesions is enough to diagnose it.
Trying to understand why me, and fearing for the future have taken up my life since this diagnosis. It's difficult to tell my friends and family about it without the word MS choking in my mouth with a poor taste, and without tears. I'm only 25, a sophomore in college, and have so much that I want to accomplish still. Not that I believe that this will hold me back, just that it's no longer going to be as easy to achieve my goals as it was before. Perhaps I'm overly concerned and a worry wart, but perhaps I am not. I keep hoping that this is just a dream that I need to wake up from, but I know that it isn't the case.
As for my blind spots, after 3 weeks they are still there but I can tell they are getting smaller. Is that due to the steroids? Not sure. But I do know that I had so many negative side effects from them, I'm not sure if I will want steroids in the future. Also with the recommendation of my neurologist, I will be starting Copaxone in the next week.
I guess I'm not sure how to feel about this all. Strength is keeping me going. One day at a time.