Before I ever entered into an affair, I was that mom that never did anything for herself. That parenting style had massive consequences for me. And in more ways than you could ever imagine.
When Zane was still an infant, I started to experience pins and needles in my feet and hands. It drove me nuts and they were constantly buzzing. The sensations moved around on my body and originally I suspected perhaps my back was out. Maybe a major nerve was pinched and that’s why I was experiencing these symptoms. So I saw my chiropractor several times, with no improvement.
I started experiencing intense heat along the right side of my face. It felt as if the nerve there was going off and it felt literally as if my face was burning. I would lay in bed, breastfeeding my son, with an ice pack over my face. That’s how horrible it felt. I created a post on Facebook, pretty much in a panic, asking friends if they knew what this could be. Some thought it would be peripheral neuropathy. Others thought it involved the trigeminal nerve that was exactly where my symptoms were.
My husband took me to the ER and that day, the attending physician suspected MS. I fit the classic profile, age and my symptoms warranted further investigation. So they performed a brain scan and I braced myself for bad news. When the doctor arrived back, he said it was clear/inconclusive. We breathed a sigh of relief. They never scanned my spine or did a lumbar punch.
I was sent home with instructions to follow up with a neurologist. But the office couldn’t get me in for another 3 days. My symptoms were horrendous and I felt like I was on fire. They prescribed gabapentin at the ER, but I refused to take them as it passes through into the breastmilk. Which meant, I would have to stop feeding my child-who by the way, couldn’t feed from a bottle. So I held on, as the pain became unbearable. My husband just stood stoically by, unable and unsure of exactly what was happening to me. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, I went into Zane’s room and breastfeed him for the last time, through a mountain of unrelenting tears. I told him how sorry I was. That I tried my best. But mommie needed to take that medicine now. I held on for as long as I could. That’s how bad the pain was.
As the entire house slept, I finally took my first dose and waited. The pain and fire on my face wouldn’t stop. I thought I was literally going to die. By 3 a.m., I finally woke my husband and told him he had to take me back to the hospital. My mom came over to watch the kids and away we went.
My heart was racing, that much I know. And the hospital was overfilled on what was a full moon night. They ran more blood and thought maybe I had a tumor on my kidney, which caused the pins and needles to be constant due to some enzyme or something being excreted. But when tests came back clear, they gave me a massive dose of something to calm me down. I don’t know what it was. But one second, I was in the worst pain of my life and the next? I was hallucinating about a little boy wearing a graduation hat running around my hospital room. And then, a green leprechaun came dancing through my hospital room next. There use to be a time when we paid money to experience stuff like this….but those times were long over and the nurse likely gave me an overdose. I was discharged immediately once I started talking about the leprechauns. Pretty sure, they didn’t want a lawsuit for what they had just done to me.
I was foggy for the next day and I think within 48 hours, my symptoms were through the roof. At that point, I didn’t trust our local hospital. Neither did my family and we all agreed, we were heading up to Los Angeles to been seen at the best hospital. I would not allow them to discharge me, until they figured this thing out. They ran so much bloodwork looking for mineral deficiencies, Lyme disease, auto-immune diseases etc. I saw a neurologist and all they could find was an unusually high heartbeat- tachycardia. They pretty much came to the conclusion that all of my symptoms were caused from stress. But they wanted to send me home with beta-blockers due to the heartbeat findings.
When I came home, being my usual stubborn self, I said, “Fuck that” and “If stress caused all these symptoms, then I need to remove the stress. Not add a pill.” So I started the process of transforming my life, one walk at a time. One run at a time.
Now I still had all of the symptoms, and I wasn’t entirely convinced that stress caused this (because I am a stubborn super woman kind of wife/mother) so I turned to eastern medicine and found the best rated acupuncturist. I explained everything and her first words were, “Don’t worry. I can fix this. I see plenty of patients in my office after having their second child. Their bodies are maxed out. Completely out of tune. But this will get better. I promise.”
Now I have no idea how it even works, but once those needles were put under my skin, I would start to feel an electrical current flowing from one to the next. It kinda freaked me out at first. But I would soon come to enjoy that sensation. At first, I saw her twice a week. Then we switched to one a week. Then a few weeks lapse at the end. It took 11 treatments but I finally got to the point where my symptoms were either gone 100% or they were so minor, it made no use to go back. I had noticed sometimes that acupuncture increased my symptoms in certain areas after those spots weren’t buzzing anymore. So it was a calculated decision on when to stop. The total time frame lasted two months.
Why does all this history matter? Well for one, I’ve never told you guys. And two-I don’t even tell my friends all of this. And three- I really need to write about what is going on in real time. Because friends-I’m not good at all.
Before anyone suggests I am some type of hypochondriac, let me assure you-I’m not. I’m probably the most even keeled person regarding medical stuff you will ever know. Fall down? Oh you are fine, dust yourself off. Feel tired? Ah, let’s go to bed early tonight. Other than seeing my OB yearly and doing a mammogram, I pretty much stay far away from doctors.
So with all that said, let me share that I have had many weird symptoms over the past month now. First was the return of sporadic and very mild pins and needles in my foot. Second, I felt a strange electric/heat sensation running up under my right eyelid, which was eerily all too familiar to what I had gone through three years ago.
I have had non-stop extreme vertigo and dizziness. Spatially, my brain is sending me signals that surfaces have a higher pitch than I know they do. These symptoms can be explained due to my inflamed Eustacian tube and subsequent retracted ear drum. I get that and took a course of prednisone to reduce the inflammation. According to my ENT, my inner ear looks great as of today-but my symptoms remain.
So I can honestly say, if those were my only symptoms- the pins/needles are caused from stress and the vertigo/dizziness was caused from the inner ear issue.
But I’m also experiencing epic migraines. I’ve had four now since the optical one I had before our trip. My vision has changed overnight. I feel as if my brain isn’t getting the right signal to my eyes. It feels as if my eyes aren’t working together. And if anything moves past me quickly, my vision doesn’t react correctly. When I talk to people, I struggle comprehending exactly what was said. Cognitively, I feel fuzzy. My head is buzzing and I have ringing in my ears.
Yesterday was the worst. I felt as if my entire body was under intense inflammation. Like every damn cell was inflamed. I felt warm and yet, had no fever. The only thing I could do was lay in a bathtub of ice cold water to relieve that symptom. I had another heat wave/band and starburst visual disturbance coming from my right eye, when I awoke this morning.
I saw my ENT for a follow-up yesterday and went through every single symptom. I finally said, “Look, I think I have MS and am experiencing a relapse.” I told him all about three years ago and everything that happened then. He really tried to impress upon me how important it was not to “go there”. To stay positive. He made it sound like just having migraines in of itself could cause all these neurological issues. He said MS was so rare and the chances were so slim. He did his best to convince me that it’s probably not that, just like all the doctors before him. I nodded up and down, trying to soak in his positive outlook. I am a big believer in mind over matter. And I realize just how powerful the mind truly is. Heck, you can convince people they committed crimes. So logically, I know anyone can convince themselves of having any disease.
But I know my baseline. I know just how strong I have been. I’ve run 2,300 miles since radically transforming my life through fitness and I’m not a stressed out person. I suspect my eye issue is optic neuritis which takes seeing an ophthalmologist to diagnose. I have an appointment with one on Wednesday. Thankfully, it’s my friend’s husband- so at least I should get a solid opinion on that part.
Today, I landed back at my ENT to perform a test called a VNG. It’s a series of tests to see if a balance/vertigo issue is related to your vestibular system. That can only get impacted two ways: disease or damage. As in lesions from MS.
Well the results came back and my hearing is great. But my eyes aren’t tracking objects correctly. Which means…something in the brain.
I’m trying really hard not to “go there” so believe it or not, besides googling what VNG is for a friend, I’m staying away from the internet (except to post here). I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole of what-ifs. But I’m scared. Really scared.
My ENT ordered a rush brain scan so I had that done this evening. Results should be here tomorrow.
My inner gut says I am experiencing my first relapse of MS symptoms. The ENT said it could also be some rare benign tumor on the auditory nerve (think that’s what she said). Trying to stay positive but my head feels so off. My vision is not right. I walk holding onto walls or my children. And anything with motion causes my brain to not process it. I’m a fraction of myself and I just want answers.
And a good cry.
And a bottle of wine once this is all done (anyone care to share it with me?)
…and friends–this afternoon I got a call saying my father passed away last night.
I need prayers. Lots. In every language around the globe. It’s been that hard of a day.