As it turned out, MS had been knocking me around for years before I even considered there may actually be something "wrong" with me. I am a fair-skinned, red head, so heat intolerance seemed a reasonable thing. I was always the last one anybody should ask for directions - everyone knew I couldn't find my way out of a dead-end street. I had gone back to school at 32 years of age, with 2 young children and a failing marriage. Stress? Obviously. My field of study was medical radiography, which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. The blessing was it was a wonderful career, with opportunities to continue learning and moving up in the field. The curse was it was the most difficult, challenging thing I could've done, at the most difficult and challenging time of my children's young lives. I spent 2 years totally focused on my studies - it was a 4 year program crammed into 2 - and my marriage continued to go down hill.
I was lucky enough to fall in love with my best friend from school and, after being out of school for a year, we married. He and his two young daughters moved in with my and my young daughter and son - and I'd only thought I'd known stress! Six weeks after the wedding, I was almost killed in a car accident. I went to work one morning and didn't come home for 3 weeks. My wonderful mother-in-law (aka "grandmother") came to stay with the kids while my husband worked and stayed at my bedside. The girls fought constantly, which continues even today. Actually, they don't fight - they just don't communicate at all. The high school years were crazy. My husband and I were continually being pulled back and forth, trying to do the best for each child. I'd not been able to go back to work in radiology, due to the physical issues resulting from the accident, but was lucky enough to get the opportunity to learn MRI. But this came at a price - it was a mobile company and I was on the road from early morning until sometimes ten or eleven at night. The fatigue was totally understandable - who wouldn't fall on the couch as soon as they walked in the door? The forgotten dentist/doctor appointments, school events, forgotten events with in-laws, movies the kids insisted we'd watched that I'd never seen - all seemed "reasonable" to me. Who wouldn't lose track of daily events, when running like crazy to try to keep track of everything?
I went to visit my daughter at college and couldn't find my way out of Houston - for four hours I went around and around the loop. This was a trip I'd made before, and I just couldn't figure out how to get out of Houston! And this wasn't an unusual occurrence for me, getting lost like this. Then I started having problems understanding people's conversations. And I couldn't remember words that I'd used all my life. Then my hearing started going in and out. But usually I was on the phone, and just assumed a bad connection. At this time I was training others in MRI. The morning I kept running into the wall every time I'd stand up to go to the patient's side is the day I finally thought "hmm...." I had the person I was training do a couple of scans on me, as I walked her through the sequences, listening to the loud bangs and clanks and thinking "this is crazy, there's absolutely nothing wrong with me", what a waste of time. When I got out of the magnet and looked at the images, it all seemed so clear. There were the infamous "plaques" all over my brain - MY brain - not some other person's. Mine.
The radiologist called and got me in to the neurologist, the same man I'd been working with for years, and I heard my options. That was fifteen years ago this May. My cognitive issues finally caused