In January 2006, I noticed a slight change in my vision in my right eye, as though I was looking through wax paper or lace. I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, who sent me to a neuro-ophthalmologist. After visual, strength, color, and balance tests, and a large blood draw, he thought it was a swollen optic nerve, or possibly early Multiple Sclerosis. He gave me a prescription for prednisone, and three days later all the blurriness was gone. Okay, no big deal, problem solved!
Three years later, in January 2009, there was a slight change in my vision in the same eye again. Days later, the vision was gone. I went to a different neuro-ophthalmologist and went through testing again. Later that week, I went to an infusion clinic for my first steroid infusion. By the time the visit was over, it was so icy outside that the infusion clinic closed early. I was then directed to the closest ER to get the drug. After being poked in both arms, leaving the plastic bendable ports in and then sticking the back of my hand, I made it through the week with the help of a dear friend who is like a sister to me. After about five days the vision was returning. I had finished the IV steroids and was tapered off the pills. Maybe just a freaky swollen optic nerve again, maybe MS, they were not sure. The rest of me felt fine. I never had any pain. I figured everything was okay.
In January 2012, the previous eye issues were weighing heavily on my mind, so I decided to get on my bicycle to get healthier. In April, I started feeling weak in my legs. My balance was off, and I started having odd feelings on my skin like itching, heat, tingling and a feeling of something wet. I attributed it to just getting older. I had been riding my bike, so I just explained the leg issues away. I discussed some of my symptoms with my general doctor, but the two incidences were not put together.
The first Saturday in November of that year I had bad chest pain. Thinking this was the end, I went to the ER. They couldn’t find a thing, so I was sent home. Sunday afternoon I quickly started having very bad pain under my ribs on my right side. I start getting violently ill, and the pain got worse. I went back to the ER, where once again, nothing. They did a sonogram on my gallbladder and it checked out fine. The pain lessened, and I was sent home again. On Tuesday, I went to a cardiologist for a stress test which was fine. On Wednesday, I saw my general doctor who suggested a gastroenterologist the next day.
The next day I woke up and could barely move at all. I went back to the ER, and brain and spine MRIs were ordered. A lesion from my shoulder blades to my waist was found. They kept saying it was probably MS, but I didn’t have those pesky lesions in my brain yet. I was admitted to the hospital because I couldn’t walk, and stayed for three days. After being pumped full of steroids and other medications, I was able to walk (and it was not pretty at all) with the help of a PT and a walker. On the third day, when I was able to walk with no assistance, I was sent home with no diagnosis, and no therapy. I went home to an empty house, sat on the floor and cried. I was frustrated and depressed and knew I needed to call the only person I knew with MS, Yvonne, my adopted Mom. If it wasn’t for her, I might still be sitting there. She gave me some physical advice, but most importantly she gave me mental advice, to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and just go on. That was the only way I could continue to be independent, and that was now my only mission in life.