I needed glasses and figured I was just getting old. The eye doctor's exam took hours which I thought was strange. He finally diagnosed optic neuritis and told me it was resolving and to call him if it didn't go away in a few months. Optic Neuritis? YIKES! I told a neurologist where I worked as a nurse in ICU and he shared my concern. He asked me to come to the office the next day.
He asked about other symptoms I had been having for 10 years. The numbness on my left foot? I attributed it to nerve pressure from the ski boots. I love black diamond downhill skiing.
The vertigo episodes? Likely from inner ear inflammation. As a fixed wing flight nurse, I averaged about 20 high altitude pressure changes per week. I had an excuse for every symptom.
After an exam, he told me he suspected MS and ordered test. "Wait up!" I said. "What do you plan to do after you diagnose me?" he told me that at the next flare, he would treat with high dose steroids. There was nothing to be done then. It was before the prevention meds existed (Betaseron was new). And pre-existing conditions was still a serious concern. I told him I'd call when I got new symptoms.
Sixteen years passed until my next serious flare. I had the tests and an official diagnosis at that time. I think my primary diagnosis still may be denial and sometimes that flare is huge.
I had to stop doing ICU work. All physical nursing had to stop. If I fell over while holding a patient up to stand, it could be disasterous. The intermittent double and triple vision made it difficult to look across the room and interpret the cardiac monitors. I was always really good at inserting IVs, but depth perception problems were making me fail AND hurting the patients.
Actually, I've made the best of it. MS has given me the excuse to dismiss anything or anyone that is negative.
I still question everything and research a lot. I am a skeptic and require proof before I believe about any diagnosis, treatment or prevention. I have a great relationship with my neurologist and especially his wonderful nurse. They show respect and compassion, albeit some eye rolling when I fall back into denial.