Thanks to the blessing of the spellchecker on this machine, I had to put the requested title in caps. No, I’m not yelling. I’m simply trying to NOT title it: deny, money, etc.
I’ve been blaming MS for my fatigue issues, in that at times I just CAN’T keep my eyes open! I got a good sleep last night, but this morning my eyes keep drifting closed. This makes living frustrating, since I can’t get through a whole newspaper article before my eyes shut.
I had problems like this many years ago, at age 20, when I was diagnosed with “myasthenia gravis”. I was on my first job after finishing my degree, at a software firm, writing a program to handle accounts receivable. A drug called Pyridostigmine, over a few weeks, cleared that up. Since then, my eyelids have been fairly well behaved.
Then in 1998 I had a new set of problems. While working at the cash register in a department store, I was slowly unable to see the screen on the machine clearly. Inch by inch, the images became pixilated! I nudged a coworker hoping for confirmation that the images were degrading, but she simply looked confused, and told me it was time that I took a ten minute break. I went to the optometrist next door to the store, and he diagnosed an ‘atypical migraine’. But my head didn’t hurt! He shrugged, sometimes it can be that way.
Several weeks later, I awoke with an intense itch in my left forearm, and scratching it didn’t help. All I succeeded in doing was clawing the skin off in my sleep! Then other little annoyances showed up, like persistentently dropping my coffee cup and bursting into tears over the broken vessel.
Off to my handy Merck manual, to see what these odd symptoms could add up to. I didn’t have the courage to look at the chapter on ALS. Puzzled, my common sense didn’t kick in until I reached the chapter on Multiple Sclerosis. Long an illness that has plagued my father’s side of the family, I had already lost two of his sisters to the disease. NO!
NO! I wailed, looking around my beloved two story house. Yet as a small morsel of logic repeatedly kicked me, I slowly sat down and read that malevolent chapter. Later that day, I called and made an appointment with my family doctor. He eventually came to the same dreaded conclusion that I had, and arranged for me to see a neurologist the next day.
This doctor was the same one that my father had been referred to, a humorless man with a dry drawl. He did the same neurological workup as my GP had done, then pronounced that there were actually TWO options possible for my diagnosis. The worst of the two would be MS. And the best? A brain tumor, because it is at least curable!
Long story short, it was, and is, MS. I was a textbook case, as far as diagnosis went, especially since I had more recently lost yet another aunt to the disease.
Subsequently, a court ordered autopsy on my father provided yet another clue. He had died of a massive clot in in carotid artery, but the evidence was clear to the coroner that he had suffered from MS prior to his passing.
That makes FIVE of us in one family. Now, I laugh when I hear that the possibility of genetic link exists in the MS population.
When I started this piece, I was going to make a joke out of my droopy eyelids. “They are overweight!” Now, my memory of my myriad diagnoses over the years has me wondering….was there any validity to the Myasthenia diagnosis? Or was it, as the neurologist tat the time had said, simply my first attack of MS in the form of a sort of optic neuritis?
At one point, years ago, a concerned neurologist sent me for a ‘myelogram’, to see if my muscles around my eyes could be suffering from fatigue, thus confirming the existence of the Myasthenia as well as MS. Dually blessed, if you will. The results were somewhat inconclusive. Myasthenia could not be completely ruled out. Nice!
So what is my problem du jour?