Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Visiting the Physicians. Multiple physicians, I might add...

So, I was told that I had to see a neurologist and started calling them. Some had appointments as soon as a month away! Inside of me, I little voice was wailing, "But I am demyelinating!" One physician said that they would not take me unless I was referred by my primary care physician, so I had to make a quick appointment to see him. I went over to the hospital to get a CD with my MRI images. I uploaded them on my computer and could see scattered white dots in my brain. I read the radiologist report and it said that there were several focal lesions in the periventricular areas. I googled that phrase and found that this was where the lesions show up for MS.

Now, I love my physician. He draws little pictures to illustrate concepts for me and will spend as much time as he needs with me. Last time I saw him, back in March, before all this started, I told him that I was feeling exhausted and dizzy. He said I worked too hard (which I do) and that my blood pressure was probably too low (which it is). But it might also be that those were the early manifestations of what is going on with me now.

But, getting an appointment at the office was difficult, but the nurse took pity on me and made an appointment for me with one of other physicians in the practice, swayed by the wobble in my voice, most likely. So, another two weeks into it, I got an appointment with someone who I had never seen.

MRI in hand, I presented my laundry list of weird neurological symptoms, feeling like a chump. After a quick exam (I was so dizzy that when he told me to put out my tongue, I gagged)), he wrote an order for a stat neurological consult. He also told me that I might be having migraines and maybe it was just stress. He told me to take a baby aspirin a day. Why, I wasn't sure.

I just looked at him.

Whatev ...

It is not migraines and I am not just under stress. I have been under more stress and never felt this. If it was migraines, would I have lesions in my brain? Wouldn't I have a headache?

By the next week at work, I could barely walk a straight line. I noticed that my vision in my right eye was blurring periodically. I looked up the symptoms of MS on the Internet and found that a common, but serious symptom was blurred vision, and that was one that you should get treatment for right away. I did not like the other symptoms, but the blurred vision freaked me out more than a little, I would say.

I started dropping things that I was holding in my left hand. I dropped my lovely (expensive) mineral powder and it exploded all over the bathroom. I looked at my husband, as if it was his fault and said, "I'm not cleaning that up." I dropped a full cup of coffee. I would think that I was holding something and it would just fall to the floor.

I started to feel like I was getting a new weird symptom per day.

I finally told the psychiatrist on my unit, because I needed a suggestion for a good neurologist. I hesitated to tell him, because we have been good friends for the last six years and I knew he would worry. Which he did. But he went to the consultant at the hospital and found someone that he thought was the best neurologist around. So I called and made an appointment with him.

Three weeks in the future.

My daughter kept looking at me woefully, looking like a Precious Moments figure. She would ask me if I was okay and I would say, "Yes, I'm fine!"

This, but sad. I finally told her to knock it off, because she was depressing me. I would let her know if I was dying and that she should clean up the cat barf if she really wanted to help me out.

Back to the whole physician thing. The next week, I finally spoke to the other psychiatrist on my team. It was a Wednesday morning and I was so off balance that I could not walk down the hall at work. I would have to stop once or twice on a trip and bend over, trying to keep from throwing up. I could not stand up straight. Speaking was really difficult. When I did speak, the wrong words came out. I lost my car keys that morning and my husband found them, right next to the computer.

I felt like crap, to be honest. I noticed that my left leg was going numb -- it felt heavy and I was stumbling. I had told my sister that I did not need a cane, and I was starting to think that I had been premature.

Of all of the things that were happening to me, the hardest thing for me to handle was that my thinking had slowed down. It was like trying to think through molasses. It was an effort. I may not be the smartest person around, but my mind is quick. It was no longer quick. It stuttered and staggered and swayed around. I had to grope for thoughts.

So, on that Wednesday morning, I felt like crap. I had groups to run and individual sessions to do, and I felt like crying. I was worried because I couldn't see clearly out of one eye. So, I went up to Dr. G (psychiatrist number two) and said, in a casual way, "So, do you have a neurologist who is a close, personal friend?" He said that yes, in fact he did. The upshot of that conversation was that his neurologist friend would see me that afternoon. It was more than an hour drive away, but I gladly took it. Armed with my lab tests and the CD of my MRI images, my leg numb, dizzy and inarticulate, off I went to see a real neurologist.


Rowan said...

Bob, that Wednesday at work sounded reallly rough. Ack to bending over in corridors feeling dizzy and nauseous. Most people would have gone home at this point, but you are needing answers, and determindely pushed on, making contacts, getting to see one neuorologist and making an appointment with another. if you were in Scotland, you would be called a bonny fechter, someone who, when faced with adversity, shows imressive battling skills. Aye in yer corner, lassie.

Am sorry about your lovely expensive mineral powder. have only tried the cheap stuff, but it goes a long way when it escapes from the container. Am being uncharacteristically bossy, and insisting that you treat yourself to another pot, when you get a mo.

Give my best to your lovely daughter. Did she clean up the cat barf? She rocketh. have cleaned up some unpleasant organic substances over the years, but that one..shiver.

Evie said...

Hello to my dear friend Dr. Bob!! I've finally finished reading all yer posts. Loverly writing!

Well, what to say? I'm sorry you have to deal with this. It plain sucks.

I second what Row says about you being a "bonny fetcher". I wish I was one of those types...I'm more of a "stay home with the covers over my head" kind of girl. Rowan-Is there a catchy Scot phrase to describe me?

Anyhow, back to you...Yes, you are a very diligent lady. In one of your other posts you said something about not wanting to tell anyone...yet still wanting to tell everyone. I totally get that! Is it that you want people to know, but not to have to talk about it? Maybe I'm wrong.

I'm praying for you and your family. I know God won't let this trial go without purpose.

Love you lady!

shelley said...

First and foremost...I'm praying for you.

Secondly...and I hope this doesn't come across as crass considering the blog catalyst and the seriousness of the situation...but this is wonderful writing...some of the best I've read from you.

Third...and I'm no doctor...but the progression of things seems quicker than what I thought MS presented.

Perhaps different people respond in different ways, but I worked next to a woman for five years who had MS and it was rare she even missed work.

I say this because, maybe, this isn't MS after all. I won't go so far as your mother-in-law and offer that it's nothing...but perhaps it's something that can be corrected or "adjusted to" (sorry, that was a vial phrase) with medication.

And finally, putting aside my ignorance, I can say with confidence that this is an incredible and difficult battle you're facing...yet you are doing so with grace.

Dr. Bob said...

Awww! Evie! Shelley!

Nice to see you two. I knew in advance that you would be praying for me, if that does not seem presumptuous.

In order: Rowan, I did not need a new pot of powder, as it was mostly salvageable. But a mess, nonetheless. My daughter did indeed cleaned up the cat barf.

(I am a bonny fechter! whoo hoo!)

Evie and Shelley thanks for the nice comments about the writing. That makes me very happy indeed.

For me, I don't want to talk about it, only because I can't abide sympathy. I have an entry floating about in my head -- thanks for the question so that I feel like I can write about it as if it is not completely self-absorbed. As if blogging about this is not remarkably navel-gazey.

Alas, I am not very informed about MS, but yeah, this seems a bit of a rapid progression, to my untutored eyes. Stay tuned for the exciting new diagnoses that loom on my horizon!

Dr. Bob said...

(and my love to the three of you -- you are all great ... your prayers and concern mean more than I can express. And that was true before and will be true long after this bump in the road is past.)

Rowan said...

Bob, you are absolutely a bonny fechter!

Evie, you asked for a Scots expression to describe the flight rather than fight response. I am in this camp myself, and would have to describe myself, in Dundee dialect, as a big fairdie. In Edinburgh it would be big feardie, and in Glasgow, big feartie.

Understand about you not being able to abide too much unhelpful sympathy, Bob. When I think about a situation years back, all that response did was make me clam up, when I really needed to talk.

Shelley, yeah, Bob does write with grace. It might sometimes feel navel gazy to you, Bob, but your writing is always powerful, vivid, and controlled, with an abiding sense of dignity.

Glad you salvaged the powder!

Good to see you too, Evie and Shelley.

Rowan said...

Bob, my friend, sorry to burden you with a low-tech gadget, but all bonny fechters really need one of these, and I mean the virtual claymore, not the itchy tartan bodice alongside. It is undoubtedly heavy, but would come in useful when catching the eye of receptionists booking follow-up appointments. They were stored under the roof-thatch by the most hardy of bonny fechters during the Jacobite rebellion. You Americans have bigger cars, so it will hopefully fit in your trunk.

What you say about the prayers is beautiful. Yer Havering sisters will march along wi ye, over the bump in the road, and beyond.

Dr. Bob said...

Rowan, this is exactly why I love you so. How many people would recognize that one needs a virtual claymore? I think I can cram it in my trunk, underneath the Trader Joe's bags and assorted travel paraphernalia.

And now I know where I can get an itchy tartan bodice -- but I have my doubts about the authenticity. It is hard to imagine women traipsing around in the "Elvira" bodice. They would freeze certain parts of their anatomy off, I would think.

(I may look like a bonny fechter, but I am a big fairdie)

Evie said...

Bob! I promise to not give you any sympathy...unless you ask for it!

Rowan said...

Bob, with ya on the tartan bodice. It is a bit, um, Brigadoon. This not to be trifled with fellow is sporting a more realistic claymorey garb, the traditional roll it roond yer middle, belt it, the sling it ower yer shidder in the moarnin, efter it has doubled as a blankit owernicht, oot on the cauld grund.

The realllly hardy bonny fechters supposedly wetted them in misty lochs before reassembling in the morning, as they heated up that way, but that sounds sort of like a recipe for arthritis.

Still, ye'll need ane o' these edgy virtual belted plaids to go wi the virtual claymore.

Ye micht feel a fairdie, lassie, but yer a bonny fechter as weel, an' at the end o' the day, that's whit bein fell brave is a' aboot. And ye are.