So Ann, it’s been 2 years since you posted on this blog. Certainly there must have been a few exciting events since the last time you posted. Well, you would be correct. In fact, something so exciting has happened that I’m using this blog to work through my thoughts about it! I went to the hospital! My life has changed drastically since last Saturday (9/28). Let’s start from the beginning… [by the way this is a REALLY LONG ENTRY and I'm splitting it into two parts, so, sorry for the cliffhanger]
In May/June, life was getting a little stressful. We were preparing to put the house on the market (which is a LOT of work if you have never owned a home) and thinking about possibly moving to Los Angeles. I have a long history of migraines – I’ve been getting them since I was 8. When I started getting them frequently in May, I thought it was a little odd but figured it was just a result of the new, extra stress of putting the house up. I thought it was a result of stress, that is, until after a particularly bad migraine I didn’t regain all of my vision. I had a blind spot in the lower left center of my field of vision, and if I was looking at patterns (spreadsheets, plaid, buildings, etc) or lights, when I turned away I saw “ghosting” in my vision that I couldn’t blink away. I already see an ophthalmologist, so I booked an appointment to get my eyes dilated and have a full exam. The exam confirmed that I had a couple of blind spots. There was no damage to my eyes or my optic nerve, but the vision change worried my ophthalmologist enough that he sent me for an MRI. The MRI results came back and showed that I had 2 spots of inflammation in my brain. My eye doctor said that he was worried I might be showing signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I had sort of a lackadaisical attitude about it because he said the blind spots in my vision reminded him of the vision loss in stroke patients (and I thought that was a little ridiculous given the fact that I’m 31), but I booked an appointment with a neurologist anyway.
By now it’s late July. I meet with the neurologist and he says that my brain inflammations look very similar to MS lesions. He schedules me for a second MRI of my cervical spine, as that’s the second place MS lesions tend to show up. The second MRI is clear. My neurologist knows that I am moving to LA in August, so he recommends I hook up with a neurologist out here in LA and have a follow-up MRI in October. If you are not familiar with the MS diagnostic process, it’s complicated. The diagnostic process can take several months, even a year or longer. There are 4 types of MS and a host of other neurological disorders that have symptoms similar to MS, so observation and testing is imperative.
In August, we proceed with the move to LA. It’s stressful, but we make it. I’ve been a klutz my entire life, but I notice that my balance/equilibrium is even worse than usual. The first weekend here I injure myself twice. I catch my cartilage piercing on the edge of a table and almost rip it out. The next day I slip while getting out of the shower and land on the toilet on my side, bruising my ribs. I chalk it up to being careless because of the stress.
Friday, September 27, Vic and I are at the Dodgers game. I am 3 Coors Lights in and notice that I’m stumbling already. Now, if you know me, you know I can put back a fairly large amount of alcohol without much difficulty. 3 Coors Lights are nothing for me. Yet, I go to the bathroom and notice that my left foot is dragging. I’m having a good time so I brush it off and we stay at the game. We hang out in the stadium club for a while, then get in a cab and go home. We didn’t eat much at the game so we order a pizza and wait for it at our local bar. I’m about 5 beers in by now and stumbling around like I’m completely hammered even though I feel reasonably sober.
I generally like to go with the flow. I know something is odd, but figure I’ll sleep it off and deal with it in the morning if it’s still a problem. I wake up on Saturday. I am not hung over. I get out of bed and I am STILL stumbling around like I’ve quaffed a pint of whiskey. Now, in addition to my equilibrium problem and my dragging left foot, I notice a lack of dexterity in my left hand. Typing is HARD. If you’re actually still reading this right now, you’re probably wondering, “ANN WHY DIDN’T YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL?” With my history over the summer and the fact that I had been drinking, I sort of figured that I was on my way to MS diagnosis land and kind of sat at home moping about it. I was also hoping that things would get better if I took it easy the rest of the weekend.
Monday comes and I try to make it through work, but that proves difficult, so I head to the urgent care (which I will have to blog about later, because my hospital experiences this week can only be described as utter nightmares). Urgent care turns me away and sends me to the emergency room. We get an ER bed at 3:30PM. Given my history, the doctor on duty orders an MRI instead of a CT scan. It’s scheduled for 7:30 that evening. The duty neurologist will still be available at that point to look at my MRI results. 7:30 passes. We bug our nurse to find out what the deal is. Around 10PM the MRI staff say they will be changing shifts soon and refuse to start my MRI. I finally get into the MRI machine at 11:45 that night, over 8 hours after we arrived at the ER. By now, the duty neurologist has gone home for the evening, so a regular doctor rushes into my room in the ER and says that I need to be admitted right away for further tests, as I have “several” active MS lesions. The beauty part of this admission stuff is the fact that we are at a private hospital with its own insurance system. So in order to not be paying for this visit for the rest of my life, I need to be transferred to another hospital — or leave this hospital against medical advice. Another great thing about this hospital is the fact that they can only transfer to one OTHER hospital because I do not yet have a primary care physician (or other doctor). So at 3AM I am packed into an ambulance and shipped off to another hospital…