I’m pretty sure there is a hard drive at a small medical centre in the western suburbs of Brisbane that is nearly full to capacity with my medical history from 2014. You might think this is because I was quite ill, but in actual fact, it was more due to the fact I was Clearly Not Fine but Not Obviously Unwell either. This scenario, as I’m starting to appreciate, appears to be part of the territory of the road towards an MS diagnosis. Sound familiar anyone?
For me, Christmas Day, 2013 was the day when everything changed. The day when I first started experiencing weirdness. The day when I was launched against my will into an abyss of medical proddings and probings, investigations and interrogations. As I began that free fall into what would become a seemingly endless onslaught of specialist appointments, each resulting in ever increasing emotional turmoil and generating far more questions than answers, I had no idea that it would take FIFTEEN MONTHS to land on the solid ground of a definite diagnosis. Not to mention dozens of abandoned hypotheses, ranging from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to shingles to bipolar disorder. Yep, you read correctly, folks. I’m sure you can imagine the fun that entailed and you can perhaps guess some of the goings-on by reading earlier posts (here and here).
Anyway I digress. Where was I? Oh right, Christmas Day. Well, Christmas Eve to be precise.
Three excited kids.
Three stockings beside beds.
One tingly left arm. Whoa, what’s that about!?
One sleepless night due to frantic worrying about early onset cardiac disease.
One trip to the emergency room.
One cursory work-up by an under-enthused medical registrar who diagnosed ‘stress’.
And finally, one Christmas dinner, comforted by the notion there was no imminent chance of the aforementioned heart attack.
One bullet dodged?
Eh wrong, on multiple fronts.
Weeks later, following yet more symptoms and weeks of confusion and dead ends, the words “active demyelinating lesion” leaped out from the radiologist’s report. However, this did not lead to a definitive diagnosis, rather served to propel me into perplexing purgatory (aka limbo-land). I still vividly recall periods of time last year struggling through the days, consumed and depleted by overpowering emotions of fear and confusion. It was like I was just going through the motions of living. And then at night succumbing kind of pervasive angst that left me deeply doubting myself to an extent never previously contemplated..
Then came… a trip to the US. Another attack. Another MRI. Another neurologist and then yet another. A diagnosis. A prescription. A steep learning curve on self-injection techniques. A label. A letter to family and friends. And finally, acceptance and a deep desire to move on.
I’m happy to report, 2015 has been a much much better year so far and at this point, I’d like to send out my thanks to all those who have supported me through that very tough time and since then, whether it was by kind words or cake, correspondence or conversations. Your friendship is oh-so-much appreciated.
Figure 1: I put together this tongue-in-cheek series of images to help portray the various emotions I felt last year. Can you relate? Do you have your own version? What were your first impressions?