In 1997, I was a healthy 40-year-old man working construction, exercising, biking, and hiking, and I noticed a numb spot on the bottom of my left foot. I didn’t really think anything of it, but then the numbness progressed up into my calf, then my thigh. I still didn’t think much of it until I started having pain in my lower back and hips. I tried going to the chiropractor with no relief, and I tried icing it with no relief; in fact, I couldn’t feel the coldness of the ice. Then things really progressed. The numbness went into my right leg, and then I started having foot drop in my left foot but I didn’t realize it, so I began tripping and falling down. After one particularly bad fall down some stairs, I finally went to a walk-in clinic to see what might be the matter. Fortunately, there was an astute doctor there who scratched the bottom of my left foot and got a Babinski reaction that alarmed him, so he recommended that I see a neurologist.
This was all over a period of about 2 years from my first numbness to seeing a neurologist in 1999 who did an MRI and found a lesion from my T-6 to T-11. He diagnosed me with multiple sclerosis (MS), but fortunately, he didn’t put me on any MS drugs, just steroids which didn’t help. Since he mostly specialized in headaches, I went to a better neurologist at a leading hospital in the area and was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS, but again, I wasn’t prescribed MS drugs. It was also about this time that I developed urinary incontinence, so I had to deal with that. My walking became so bad that I was laid off from my construction job for my safety, but they made sure that I was hooked up with the proper occupational therapist (OT).
Then as I progressed, I went from one cane to two, then cuffed crutches, and then got a scooter. Then my doctor sent me to a urologist, and they showed me how to self-cath which eliminated the incontinence much to my relief. I use digi-stim (digital stimulation) to have a bowel movement. Then my spasms increased, and I was taking 20 milligrams of Baclofen every four hours, but I didn’t take it at night so would have to start all over in the morning waiting for my medications to kick in. My doctor then told me about an internal intrathecal Baclofen pump. I was tested and approved for it, so in 2003 I got the pump. The pump lasts seven years and requires just a one-day surgery to replace. I get refills every three months, so I do have to be responsible for getting the refills. I have been spasm-free since then. It gave me just enough spasticity to walk.
Also about this time, my pain level was increasing. My doctor eventually prescribed morphine which worked OK. Then in about 2005, my pump doctor retired, and so they sent me to another doctor to get my Baclofen refills. That doctor told me I could get the morphine in my pump. What a relief that turned out to be. Getting the morphine intrathecally is much more effective. I went from a pain level of seven or eight to a pain level of zero to one! With the intrathecal pump, for both medications I am taking micrograms of the medication instead of milligrams, so I don’t have any side effects from either medication.