Monday, February 29th, 2016. Leap Day 2016. I remember when it was a Leap Day in grammar school we would celebrate it. Well…I don’t exactly remember what we did to “celebrate” it, but I remember that in my little kid brain it was a “cool” day. It only happened every four years so there was something “special” about it just because it was rare. A “cool” day much worthy of “celebrating”. Not Leap Day 2016. That day was not cool at all and certainly nothing worth celebrating. Leap Day 2016 is, in my opinion, the day my first real MS symptoms started to show themselves. The day my body starting revealing to me it’s new “normal.”
I woke up with numbness in my left side. And now I could say for sure that my vision had become worse. It was borderline between blurred and almost double. But it seemed to come and go in bouts. And I had places to be, it was Monday morning and I was a busy lawyer! This was also the beginning of my many experiences of having to ask for help as I began to navigate my new normal. My eyes were so bad that I knew for certain there was no way that I could safely drive myself to Will County for court and then all the way downtown to my office; it was completely out of the question. Que my incredible fiancé. He got up early and chauffeured me to court in Will County and then dropped me off at my office downtown. As I worked throughout the day I began noticing that my left leg now was feeling numb/tingly, even all the way down to my left foot and toes. When I got home that evening I made a doctor’s appointment. By the time I went to bed that night I had that strange new feeling all the way down the left side of my body from my rib cage to my toes. I am no doctor but even I know that is NOT normal. But still at this point, I wasn’t thinking it would be anything too serious.
On March 1st I went to see my primary care doctor again and brought him up to date on everything that had transpired since my January MRI. The January MRI was negative for any abnormalities. Since then my headaches had gotten better, but my vision had gotten gotten much worse, and now I had this numbness thing going on which was really weird…so…yea…WTF DOC?!?!?!
This was the first time my doctor hit me with those two powerful letters; M.S. To be honest, I really didn’t pay much attention to them though because he all but dismissed them in his next breathe by saying the results of my brain MRI from January made it very unlikely. He told me it could be a number of other things, like a pinched nerve or a herniated disk and those both sounded like MUCH better options to me. So I focused on those, took the prescription he gave me to help with the symptoms and minor pain and went on my way. I expected that he give me his standard order to report back to him if it didn’t subside in a week or two, as he always does; (he’s been my doctor since I was a wee little kid) but he didn’t. Instead, there was a slight modification this time. He said to follow up with him in a week either way and let him know how I was feeling. Maybe I should have seen that as a bigger red flag, but I admit that at the time I probably made a subconscious decision not to. Unfortunately, a week later there was no more denying it. It was clear that the prescription he gave me wasn’t helping anything and things were just getting weirder and weirder inside my body.
A week later, March 8th, I called my doctor to let him know my body was still going completely bananas. He ordered a spinal MRI and said that even though the January MRI was negative he was becoming increasingly concerned that something more serious was happening. This time he mentioned the possibility of MS and specifically told me that the spinal MRI would allow us to see what we needed to see in order to make a diagnosis.
(I have MS…duh)
When I called the next day, on March 8th to schedule the MRI appointment, the soonest they could even take me was March 19th. I was looking at another eleven days of wondering what in the hell was going on with my body. Thankfully the rest of that week was rather uneventful. I was just tired ALL THE TIME. I felt like the littlest things took all my energy. I got tired enough to have to sit down from only going up one flight of stairs. My vision was still impaired to the point I wouldn’t drive much and my side was mostly numb but not completely (yet). All in all, it was uncomfortable and annoying but not horrible or unbearable. I could last another eleven days like this until the MRI, no big deal. Or so I thought.