I was diagnosed in 2014. I was already sure what it was. I remember the day the doctor told me. I had no reaction; I was just so relieved. My neurologist was actually trying to console me, but I didn’t need consoling. I was actually happy, I wasn’t going crazy; I did indeed have MS, but I wasn’t dying.
The events leading up to that diagnosis aren’t so concise. I wish I had sought help sooner. To quote an old Sicilian, Sophia Petrillo, “Picture it. June 2001.” I wake up and I’m numb from the waist down on my right side. Well, I just thought I slept funny or something. It was numb for about six days then, as quick as the onset, I was fine. So of course, I didn’t go to the doctor. Well this happened three or four more times before 2007. I just really didn’t think that much about it. Then in the summer of 2007, it happened again but this time my left foot joined in. To say the least, driving was an adventure. One thing that was different, it didn’t go away. I went to my doctor. He ordered an MRI of my lumbar spine. The diagnosis was degenerative disc disease. I was sent to an orthopedic specialist and, I kid you not, his response to me is the reason I did not seek help sooner. He looked at my MRI and said to me, “I don’t see it. It doesn’t hurt, live with it.” Well, live with it I did. The only problem was that in the late summer of 2008, it started to hurt. The pain in both of my feet was so bad, at times; I would be in tears just trying to walk. That doctor’s pompous attitude and callous words, plus the being broke thing, kept me from seeking any other medical help. That was tough, but I was determined.
Let’s fast forward to the autumn of 2012. It moves into my right hand. It doesn’t start out as being numb, it’s pain. It’s a whole lot of throbbing, stinging, burning and pins and needles. So I decide I need to do something. Well, in Arkansas there is this Medicaid program for the Working Disabled. I apply and get denied because I had no medical proof. Of course their literature states that if you haven’t seen a doctor, they should send you to one to make the determination. Note it doesn’t say they will just that they should. Then in the spring, it moves into my left hand. I am sitting at my desk and I feel it start in my fingertips on my left hand. As I am looking down at my hand I literally feel pins and needles creep down my fingers and across my palm and then taper off at my wrist.
The pain is excruciating. I am no longer able to function on a day to day basis. So in June 2013 I go and apply at the Christian Clinic, a free clinic in this area. I figure I can at least have a medical record, so I can apply again for the Medicaid. I don’t qualify for their services. We make too much money, not enough to seek out medical treatment, however. I’m in pain. I look like a freshly scrubbed surgeon, nothing is touching these hands. I am sobbing. They take pity on me and schedule me for one courtesy appointment. I meet with this wonderful older doctor, Dr. Wilbur, he founded the clinic. He prescribes me gabapentin and walks me to the pharmacy area. He wants to see me the next week. I take this gabapentin and, I swear, I think it’s a miracle drug. After the first dose, I am able to touch things. Heck, I can wipe my butt without tears!
I go to the second appointment. He wants to have an MRI done of my brain. He reserved what he is thinking, not knowing I had already come up with a few things this might be. I have the MRI done, this is all on their dime. God Bless them! I go back for the results. The doctor tells me it looks like it might be MS, but he’s just an old country doctor, so he wants me to see a neurologist. I told him I couldn’t afford it. He told me I couldn’t afford not to. He was right. He wanted me to continue seeing him until they get me into a neurologist. We had been waiting for six or so months and he advised me to find a good internist, that maybe they could get me in faster. So I pick out a doctor from a list of his recommendations and go to a doctor to see if they can get me in to a neurologist. Of course, I had to get a list of doctors from the NMSS, Arkansas Chapter. My new doctor had no idea where to send me.
So my first appointment with the neurologist was on my birthday in 2014. Happy Birthday to me! He scheduled me for a lumbar puncture and subsequently diagnosed me with RRMS. Of course, after doing much research and listening to numerous stories of others with MS, I can only conclude that I have been in relapse since 2007. I now wear a leg brace as my condition slowly declines. So that as they say is that and that is my story or at least a portion of it. There truly is so much more.