Anyone who read my book Dawg Tired, the Brain Fog Chronicles, might remember me thinking I was too old to have Multiple Sclerosis. I was taught in nursing school it was a young persons disease. It only affected those under 35. It never occurred to me to think back and remember the numbness I developed that started in my left leg, it went from my knee down just after my son was born. I had assumed the numbness was from an accident I had right before he was born. So in 2002 when I had the symptoms of fainting, extreme fatigue, the skin on the upper right quadrant of my back feeling like it was on fire and trouble walking my family practice doctor set up an appointment for a brain MRI and a consultation with a neurologist - and told me he was doing this just to prove to me nothing was wrong, I was just depressed and if I would just take the Zoloft he was offering me I would be fine.
I had an "open" MRI with 2 milligrams of Xanax on board. I still had a panic attack. The MRI was clear, the neurologist said I was fine and maybe I needed an antidepressant. I believe it was all a set-up.
Yet, here I am at the end of 2014, my pacemaker and the leads gone, a new brain MRI (this one with 10 mg of Valium and no panic attack) showing Multiple Sclerosis and a medical history dating back at least to the leg numbness in 1992 when I was 33. Never did I think back and consider the MS might have started before I was 35 it just hadn't been diagnosed. Why wasn't it diagnosed? I had no insurance. My son was born on Medicaid and I had no insurance through my employer at the time. When I moved to Arkansas and went to work at Levi Strauss their absence policies were so strict that taking time off for a doctor appointment for myself was almost impossible. I had already been fired from a job at a nursing home for being in isolation in the hospital with my 18 month old son while he had RSV. I was not allowed to leave and despite the fact I took in a doctor note and called in to work every day I was still fired.
So now I am no longer working and I have at last solved a long standing mystery. 3 days a week I inject myself with a drug called Copaxone. It is a tiny needle, injected subcutaneously into the fat layer, slowly - over 10 seconds. It stings afterwards, like a red wasp got me, but I'm tough and I can handle it.
Soon after the MRI the neurologist set me up with a 3 day series of steroid infusions. They took away a lot of the physical pain I had been dealing with for many years. Somehow, even though it has taken this many years, this diagnosis has been a relief. A lot of things now make more sense.