Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life Upside Down; The Year 2010 in retrospect.

Last December was the start of things, Tho' I didn't recognize it at the time. I was having some difficulties with strength and cognitive issues. I kept telling myself and a few others that it seemed as though I was having a stroke in slow motion. Nothing concrete. I was over weight and having trouble navigating. I would drop things because my grip was weak. I was clumsy and bumbling. I remember thinking, "is this how some elderly feel?" and "I'm walking like a really old lady walks?"
I kept thinking it had to be my weight. On New Years Day at my sister's house I weighed myself with her son's scale in his bathroom. I didn't have a home scale at that time and quite frankly I have always avoided scales anywhere. But because of my troubles I decided to break with my tradition and hopped on. To my surprise, I weighed out at 190 pounds. I knew according to health standards I was 40 to 50 lbs heavier than I should be. I decided right there and then to do something about that.

The next day I cut back on my food intake. I decided to eat three meals but, lesser amounts. I decided that carbs would be cut drastically. I took up the slack with fruits and vegetables. Proteins became more important to me also. I made sure that dinner was the last meal of the day and that it happened at 5 pm. Then no more eating for that day.
I also purchased a Wii with two additional software. One was Wii Fit and the other EA Sports. When they came the next week, I started a exercise program that I followed at least 5 times a week.
I was so pleased when I started feeling better. I didn't drop the weight fast but I started feeling much better. Each week I would feel stronger. Each week I would drop a little weight. It was encouraging because I felt better and the symptoms were disappearing.
In February I got a relapse. Not really knowing what was going on I didn't associate it with anything then. I just felt weak. Mostly my arms, I wasn't able to hold onto things. Writing was a chore and I couldn't hold my arms up long enough to braid my hair. I thought of Great Uncle Larry. He had arthritis in his shoulders. He couldn't raise his arms up at all. I remember wondering if that was it. I didn't have any pain though. I just couldn't raise my arms.
I remember finally fearing it was MS. I did some web searches but, couldn't make a solid connection.
I continued with my diet and exercise. The exercises were tiring. But these symptoms didn't last long. Within a week they were gone and forgotten.
The following days were filled will a nervous, anxiousness. I just wanted to go, go, go. We had had a long winter of no snow but I felt house bound. When spring came I was almost maniacal with "go fever". There were so many places I wanted to go. So many things I wanted to see. Every day I could we would drive some where to see our beautiful North Idaho. On the days we couldn't go I would grow angry and feel nailed down. I can't excuse myself for this or explain it. I have always loved driving and going but this was different. It seemed critical.
I stayed symptom free all spring and most of the summer. There were some nights my legs ached with that mysterious heaviness that only relieved itself if I moved my legs every couple of minutes. But I didn't make a connection. Now, I wonder if my years with what I called "heavy legs" at night was the start of MS for me. It would come and go. Some thing I now see as flare ups of spasticity. I haven't been able to associate a trigger for them however.
If I look back at my journal I can read what I wrote at the end of July, "feeling kind of not well". I really don't remember this, but I have had since my diagnosis, noticed a malaise come over me at times. So I am thinking this must have been the case in July. Suffice it to say if it made it to my journal, it must have been a concern at the time.
The big bomb dropped on me in August. I woke one morning with double vision. It took me a day to figure out what all the dizziness and blurred, crazy vision was all about. The next day I covered one of my eyes and realized my vision was clear. I covered the other eye and it was clear too. When I used the eyes together the vision was double and I unable to focus. I went through this week-end with dumb founded wonder. I contacted an eye doctor on Monday and was able to get an appointment the same day. He confirmed the double vision. He was unable to correct it for me. He told me there was nothing he could do. He told me if I needed, cover one of my eyes to help me navigate. He sent me in for an MRI and set up an appointment with a neurologist.
I went in for my MRI a week later. I didn't know exactly what to expect. I just knew I would be placed in a tube. And I was. After a bit of paper work with a nice women I was directed to the dressing room and given a set of hospital pajamas. After changing I met with the MRI technician and he led me to the MRI machine. He asked me a few questions and had me lay down on a table in front of the tube. He put a pillow under my knees and one under my head. He then laid long pillows along both my sides. He put a brace over my head. It reminded my of a football helmet's face guard. He then handed me a small ball with a wire attached and told me if I need out just to squeeze it. The next moment I was sliding into the tube. Since my double vision was disorienting anyway, I keep my eyes closed. I was amazed at the calm I felt. I thank God for that. After what seemed a short time I was out. The tech asked me if I had any questions. I asked him what he saw. He said I can't tell you. I said, then I'm outta here.
Two weeks (unbelievably long weeks)later I had the results of the MRI and an explanation. My eye doctor broke the news to me and told me to keep my appointment with the neurologists.
On September 3 I received what would be called an official diagnosis. To me it was a second opinion and a confirmation of what I had began to fear in February.
My neurologist told me about two different therapies. He gave me some literature so I could make an informed decision. The next few weeks was filled with research and confusion. I remember reading things about MS and not understanding what I was reading. I was overwhelmed. I had no clue what I should do. Finally I decided on the therapy I thought would be the lesser of two evils. Both seemed so drastic. Both seemed so scary. I wasn't worried about the shot aspect of either. Needles haven't been a problem for me since one of my dogs was diagnosed with diabetes in 1984. I was worried about the side effects. I was worried about the added expenses.
After a few more weeks of waiting I was finally able to start my chosen therapy. I started smooth and continues to go smoothly. Thankfully.
I have been on this therapy for only 8 weeks so far. I've read that it's full benefit will not be in effect for six more months.
At the time of this writing, December 13, I am doing well. I do have daily MS symptoms that are apart of my MS and have been evident since my double vision bout. Thankfully, my double vision has not returned.
I do count December as my one year anniversary for the start of things. My diagnosis with RRMS (relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis) will hold it's own anniversary date.
So there it is... 2010 in retrospect. The Lord has lead me safe thus far and He will lead me home. With His Amazing Grace I stand.

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