Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Diagnosis Part 2

The neurologist arrived within a few minutes. He did a full neurological exam. He asked me about remote symptoms that I may have had in the past like tingling, numbness or visual problems. I told him about the tingling in my legs that I feel every once in a while when I look down. And I get dizzy if I look straight up. I thought all of those things were just part of getting older, or from an injury. I'm very athletic, I run, bike, weight train, etc. I get injured sometimes. I attributed those symptoms to that.

Anyway, the doctor showed me pictures from my MRI, with the "enhancing lesions." He explained in detail, the different types of MS
"Are you sure, this is what I have?" I asked.
"I'm sure, but I would like to run a few more tests for confirmation. Some blood work, a lumbar puncture, and I would like to admit you to the hospital."
I asked, "What is the treatment?"
He said, "There is no cure, yet. There are many treatment options available, more than there were years ago, when the treatment was to send you home, and treat you when you had exacerbations. Now, you have many pharmacological treatments, but they're expensive and that's something to consider. Of course, there is always the option to do nothing. Some people make that decision."

I said, "Do nothing, are you kidding? I'm gonna fight this thing. You tell me what I have to do and I'll do it."

I was admitted and started on IV Solumedrol. This was given to treat my exacerbation and to hopefully restore my sight. I called my husband and he left work to stay with our kids, who were 14, 11 and 9 at the time. He brought them to visit later in the day. I was in the hospital for three days.

During my second day, I had a lumbar puncture under fluoroscopy and ended up with a wicked spinal headache for many days afterward. The results further supported my diagnosis of MS.

I was in a state of shock. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I didn't know If I would be able to go back to work as a nurse. I worked so hard to get through nursing school, especially with 3 kids. My husband worked 2 jobs to put me through school. I graduated in the top of my nursing class and got my dream job. I was saving lives, I was helping people. Why was this happening to me?

I tried looking at MS websites on my lap-top while in the hospital. It was hard to see the lettering unless I got really close to the computer. I was able to see enough, to get some basic information and about the different drugs available. I used my nursing palm pilot drug program to look up the costs of the drugs and saw that the retail of one drug was $1600 a month. I realized that I had just enough information available to me as a nurse to be dangerous and I needed to stop looking things up because I was upsetting myself. I was suffering information overload.

Even though I was newly diagnosed I knew enough to know that I needed to remain calm, try to get sleep and let my body heal.

Each day I had a list of questions for my neurologist. I really liked him. He sat down on a chair in my room and stayed until I was finished asking questions. I asked him If he thought I would be able to work again as a nurse. He said that he couldn't promise anything but he knows nurses who currently work in the hospital who are living with MS.

To this day the doctor doesn't know that that statement gave me HOPE. There were other nurses living with MS and working as nurses in this hospital, the hospital where I work. This was a profound moment for me. At that moment I became a survivor because I was given HOPE.

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