Medical insanity

This past week, both my therapist and counselor have been on vacation. Of course, this is also the week that my body decided to fall apart and send me into quite a tailspin. When it rains, it pours, right?

I noticed a couple of weeks ago (almost 3 now) that my right eye hurt when I looked way up/down or left/right. After a couple of days I also discovered that it hurt to press on it when it was closed. I thought it was just eye strain because I wasn’t wearing my glasses as much as I should. Toward the middle of last week, I started noticing that I had a blurry spot in my left eye, but again chalked it up to eye strain. I finally dug out my glasses and started wearing them again, but they didn’t seem to help. In fact, the blurry spot got larger and darker so I went to the college health center. They thought it was just some migraine symptom. Within an hour I was in the emergency room because I couldn’t see out of my right eye anymore. They sent me home a brief check and CAT scan later with the same diagnosis of a migraine and told me to go see this ophthalmologist in the morning.

I went the next morning fully expecting the ophthalmologist to find nothing and confirm the diagnosis of migraine. I’ve learned since Monday NOT to walk into doctor’s offices with any kind of expectations. It turned out that I have optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve which causes swelling in other parts of the eye as well. Optic neuritis is also one of the first presenting symptoms in many cases of Multiple Sclerosis. It can be caused by other things, but that is the most frightening. I’m being tested for everything.

I had to go monday afternoon for an IV infusion of steroids. I then started daily IV infusions on Wednesday. They make me really sick, but at least I only have two more to go. They’re helping my eyesight a little, but the nausea and insomnia are definitely not fun.

So far I’ve had two MRIs, one that confirmed optic neuritis and another that showed no signs of MS in my brain. That’s good news at least. Unfortunately I also have some family history of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, unequal reflexes (left side weaker than right), and some other symptoms. They aren’t ruling anything out. I’ve visited the vampires twice (the nice phlebotomists who’ve taken 7 or 8 viles of blood this week). I still have to have a lumbar puncture on Monday and two more MRIs on Wednesday. Hopefully I’ll get some results then.

Right now my vision is 20/400 in my right eye. Basically, what most people can see and identify at 400 feet away, I have to get 20 feet away from to figure out. It does look like I’ll get most of my sight back which is great. I’ll just need new glasses once it all settles back in to where it should be.

Here’s the list of possible diagnoses: Multiple Sclerosis, vitamin D deficiency, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, Lyme disease, idiopathic (no known cause), HIV, Cat Scratch Fever, and a few other things that I can’t remember.

I’m really hoping to have some answers soon. I finally got up the courage to tell my mom yesterday. I just couldn’t deal with that conversation the beginning of this week. It took until I was numb enough not to cry to be able to face it. I’m really grateful that I have so many friends and resources here at college that are really looking out for me.  People drop out of the sky at exactly the moment that I need a hug. A friend of mine from my dance studio called me yesterday and took me out to lunch and has volunteered to take me to my spinal tap on Monday. I don’t know that I would make it without all of them.

One bad thing is that they can rule in MS, but they can never completely rule it out. Not showing signs of it now doesn’t mean that I won’t develop it 10 years down the road. In fact, 5 % of patients diagnosed with optic neuritis show absolutely no signs of MS at all and still go on to develop MS later.

Life is what it is and can always become something great. I’ve learned through years of experience that the tragedies that befall me today will help me build the strength or knowledge to move through the events of tomorrow.

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~ by Kj on March 12, 2010.

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