I’ve heard and read accounts of people having multiple sclerosis symptoms for years before finding out that they have MS. But in my case, if I could call anything about this disease “simple” it would be my diagnosis.
It was a Friday afternoon in June and I was sitting at my desk at work. All of a sudden I felt light-headed. Not like I was going to pass out – just a dizzying feeling that lasted about five seconds and was gone. I thought that maybe I needed some sugar in my system (I hadn’t really eaten much for lunch) so I grabbed a snack from the cafeteria and went on with my day. And I didn’t think anything else of it.
But then the light-headedness returned periodically over the weekend – maybe two or three times during the day. And when it happened, I also felt that same disconnected feeling in my right leg. I was starting to get a little scared, but told myself that it was probably a side effect from all the running (I was training for the marathon and running at least 15-20 miles a week).
The weekend passed and on Monday, back at my desk, I got light-headed again. This time I didn’t feel anything in my leg, instead I felt it in my right hand and I had trouble moving my ring and pinky fingers. Again, it only lasted a few seconds, but I knew something was wrong. It happened a few more times throughout the day and I was convinced I was having a mild stroke.
I made an appointment to see an internal medicine doctor two days later. She performed a basic exam and suggested that I start a daily aspirin regime. She thought that I might have had a transient ischemic attack – and while she said I should be okay (because of my age, family history, exercise habits), she offered to prescribe an MRI to give me peace of mind. She also said I could still run the half marathon that weekend (in preparation for the marathon – it was my halfway point for training).
So I ran the half marathon on Saturday, still occasionally feeling light-headed and experiencing the weird sensation in my right leg and my hand. I went in for my MRI the following Tuesday.
And then I got the phone call.
They called the same day the MRI was performed, which I knew was not a good sign. “The radiologist said it appears you have lesions typical of multiple sclerosis.”
From there things moved quickly. I was able to get an appointment by the next week with a neurologist who specialized in multiple sclerosis. A day later, I was admitted into the hospital for a round of solu-medrol (although my symptoms were extremely mild, the neuro suggested the steroid dose to reduce damage) and a spinal tap to confirm the diagnosis.
At the beginning of June I was looking forward to summer. Warm weather, White Sox games with my boyfriend, training for the marathon. By the end of the month – June 26 to be exact – I was released from the hospital with a diagnosis for a chronic, debilitating disease.