Monday, March 28, 2011

When life gives you lemons...Part 3 at last!

The rest of Christmas day came and went in a blur of tests and visitors and that night I happily fell asleep and slept like an absolute log until sunrise. Shortly after the breakfast trolley had rattled its way around the ward I was visited by the "theres no tumor" doctor and the consultant neurologist of the ward, Dr Blacker. They each pulled up a chair and sat themselves down all the while asking how I was feeling etc, the usual chitchat of doctors. Dr Blacker then wanted to go over the MRI and Lumbre Puncture results with me and explained that the findings picked up in both were that of what they usually saw in people with Multiple Sclerosis. He went on to explain this, that and the other and I sat there totally oblivious to what they were, in the nicest possible way, trying to tell me. Out of the whole "the findings picked up in both were that of what they usually saw in people with Multiple Sclerosis" sentence, the word my brain had decided to focus on was "usually". I can't really remember when in the conversation the penny finally dropped for me but I remember there being a pause, at which point I said "so are you saying I have Multiple Sclerosis?" When I received an affirmative answer I swear the whole world just stopped momentarily. There was no sound, I could not speak, I could barely breath. Then came the tears. I cried whilst the doctors sat there in uncomfortable silence. I looked up to see Dan and Kye standing in the doorway, the smile on Dans face instantly replaced with a look of concern. Quickly wiping away my tears I patted my lap and beckoned Kye over to come sit with me. Dr Blacker led Dan out of the room to explain what had just happened. I sat holding Kye while he happily chatted away about his Christmas presents and I pretended for all the world that there was nothing wrong, that my world had not just been turned upside down. Dan reappeared in the doorway a short time later looking shocked, I could tell he had been crying and had also wiped away the tears, for Kyes sake but I think mostly for mine. I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on the 25th December 2003. My sweet doctors chose not to tell me until the next day. That afternoon I was started on IV steroids to reduce the inflammed areas in my brain and spine as quickly as possible. The MRI had picked up 8 areas in my brain and 3 to my spine. The steroids seemed to work quite quickly and within a couple of days the complete numbness in my legs was replaced by pins and needles. This was a good thing. I could feel again. In all I spent 6 days in hospital and was home just in time for New Years Eve. It took around 6 weeks but I made an almost complete recovery with some permanent residual weakness in my right leg which I have to this day. It's my lazy leg and foot, the kind of foot that will trip over a blade of grass! I've been lucky...very lucky and apart from living with mainly sensory symptoms like pins and needles, tingles, occasional numbness and fatigue I have not had a major relapse since diagnosis. I do still live with uncertainty however, MS is a buggar like that, it's an unpredictable disease with no known cause and no cure although there are plenty of drugs to help manage the disease now as compared with just 20 years ago. Twice as many women as men are affected and it hits mainly between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age. My diagnosis changed my life in many positive ways, many more positive ways than negative (there are a few!) but it truly helped me to sift through the important and not so important stuff in life, it helped me to let go of some baggage but also to confront and deal with other deeply buried emotional stuff. That is still a work in progress. I am more resiliant and more compassionate and much more patient than I was before MS. Not my ideal Christmas gift but in many ways it has been just that...a gift.