I was in gifted and talented during middle school and quit because of boredom, even that wasn’t a challenge. Well turns out I am (was?) extremely smart, surprise! I am the type of person who can take tests in my sleep without studying, school was what I was good at, it defined me and it came easy. In elementary school I was always first or second in the class, I went to special gifted and talented summer schools and at sixth grade graduation I was awarded the President’s Award of Academic Fitness. High school was so mind numbingly boring to me that my biggest problem was showing up most days. I’d rather sleep than waste my time at school. My high school Algebra teacher gave me a D because I never came to class. I’m sure I would have gotten that same D had I come to class and gone to sleep. Every test I took for him was an A, every homework assignment turned in was an A but he was trying to prove a point. So I am (was?) that kind of smart. This will become a huge losing my identity problem later on.
College was harder for me than expected. Clearly, smart was not the trouble I was having with college. The fatigue is what was messing with me. Some days it was all I could do to get out of bed, I was usually more alert in the evening so I tried to schedule classes as late as I could. I had to take off entire quarters (MSOE runs on quarters instead of semesters) because I was exhausted so it took me a lot longer to graduate. Trust me this was not an easy pill for me to swallow. I forgot to mention I worked full time and went to school full time. My MS was pretty quite during this time, although when I would go out dancing my middle left toe would go numb for a few days after and I always attributed it to my high heels. I am a firm believer in the higher the heel the closer to God. I love my high heels.
It was not until 2006 that I started having a weird headache that started on the top of my head and felt like an egg was being cracked over it and dripping down. I also had some eye twitching. Because of my history with my weird stroke like episode I was sent out for my favorite thing ever, an MRI. At this point I know to tell the doctor I need to be sedated which just makes everything easier for all involved. The only thing that showed up was that same old spot from when I was 16. Later in 2006 or early 2007 I remember lying in bed with my then boyfriend, now husband, watching the final game of NCAA basketball. He was asleep and the room was completely dark except for the TV, suddenly my vision went black. I kind of freaked out but after a few minutes it came back and I attributed it to watching TV in a dark room.
By 2008 we were planning our wedding and I was still working on college and working full time, sigh. In May of 2009 we were closing on our first house and I was graduating, FINALLY! In August 2009 we got our beautiful Sasha Dog and I started a new job. Sasha was an incredibly challenging puppy, she was exhausting, a nightmare to potty train, very stubborn to train at all and we found out the hard way that she is, apparently, a cannibal. She hates other dogs and can only be satisfied with their flesh. I took her to special trainers to work through it and it did not work. As a result, Sasha is a lone wolf and we keep her away from other dogs. Thankfully, she adores people. During this whole new job, new house, new dog time I was progressively getting more and more tired then in April 2010 everything started to unravel. My left leg went completely numb from toes to hip for a whole week. I was certain it was a pinched nerve in my back so I went to the chiropractor and a few days later I was fine. My body started to hurt all the time. I was forgetting everything and repeating everything over and over again to my husband. In July 2010 my husband’s stepdad (I only say stepdad because it can get confusing if I mention his dad in a future post, my husband grew up with two dads and he was very, very close to his stepdad) was having some vision problems and going through medical testing. At the end of July I was on my way to a wedding shower and the toes on my left foot started going numb. By the time I got home I was numb all the way up to my hip. The next day the numbness was moving up my rib cage. I went to urgent care because emergency rooms are for emergencies and I was not bleeding profusely and I was still conscious. The doctor, after hearing about my stroke like episode, sent me straight to the ER to make sure I was not having a stroke. I thought she was nuts, I thought I screwed up my back. At the ER, they evaluated me for a stroke (I wasn’t having one, duh) and I had a CAT scan. The attending doctor called my primary care doctor because they found lots of spots on my brain. The attending doctor came back to me with the news, “we think you have MS and you can go home now, follow up with your primary care doctor”. What the hell is that? The only time I have ever heard of MS is when I did a charity walk when I was a kid. I drove myself home and called my stepmom with the news and I cried but that was the only crying I was going to do, I am not a crier. I was pretty convinced that I did not have MS until I got home and had a visit with Dr. Google. Could I have been anymore textbook? My episodes were more than a month apart and lasted longer than 24 hours, my cognitive function was severely affected, I was exhausted, the weird vision thing, everything made sense. Ok, I have this now what? Another MRI, yay! After the results of my MRI and blood work I was referred to the best MS doctor in the area, which turned out to be an experience that deserves its own post. Then we got the phone call about my father in law, he had lung cancer that had gotten to his brain. It was at that moment I decided I would not, could not cry or complain about my situation. My battle was going to be far easier than the one that lie ahead for him.
I bet you are wondering what buying a house, getting a difficult dog and graduating have to do with MS. Stress. Stress seems to exacerbate symptoms along with the crappy food I was eating. I was a perfect storm for it to present itself at that time. There was far more going on than I mentioned but I have realized that part is almost over and isn’t worth going down memory lane for.