I can remember when I awoke in an emergency room and the doctor’s were telling me I had all the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. I had only heard that word one time previous and that was back in California many years previously. I rejected it. Shame on me. When I first began falling down I was only about 25 or 26 years old. However, it did not get bad until I was in my late 40’s. I can remember falling “up” stairs. Now I know, you may say a person can only fall “down” stairs. Not true. I used to fall trying to climb stairs, falling forward on my face. Not fun, let me assure you.
After three more trips to the ER, several cat scans, and many doctor’s all giving me the same diagnoses, I finally went to a neurologist and an intern try to give me a spinal tap. That was not fun. Finally, they took me down into the x-ray department so they could see where to put that darn needle. One doctor told me my illness was all in my head. I stormed out of the office and refused to have anyone else stick a needle in my back. At that time he was showing me a film of my brain with all sorts of dead spots. I thought he was telling me I was crazy, and did not want to hear it.
Then, a year or so later, I awoke once more in an ER and was told I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), otherwise known as a “mini stroke.” While TIAs are not often deadly, they are serious precursors to a full-blown ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke that may follow if symptoms are left untreated. The doctor kept telling me to take aspirin, which I knew makes me bleed. I could only wonder what was going on. I kept refusing to take it, they finally gave up and allowed me to go home.
The doctor’s I had at that time never really knew me, so they did not know I am different than most people. I learned how to read from a dictionary, yet it was a very old dictionary. This was before I turned ten years old. A nurse was showing me what an outhouse looked like. Then she took me into a bathroom and showed me how to use it. Bless her heart. She was so patient with me. The only other book i had read was the Holy Bible. My sister had read that to me when i was living in the back yard of my father’s home before I was six years old. She and I would sit under the grape arbor and she would hold the book on her lap and point to the words as she read them. But I do not mean to digress.
Many of the signs a person with MS have are similar to a stroke. Thus, the more I learned about each, the more confused I became. Numbness or weakness of the face, limbs or one side of the body; paralysis of the face, limbs or one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding other people.; trouble seeing with one or both eyes, or blurriness in vision; dizziness, loss of balance, or control of muscles; splitting headache with extreme pressure or a throbbing sensation. A defect on one side of the brain will affect the opposite side of the body.
Trust me, none of these are any fun. Especially when people see this in me they want to help so they call 911 and I get carted away to a hospital where they do nothing but watch me. Then when I am able to be awake and move they send me home. The problem is when I have no one with me, I have to find my own way home. Which is not easy. Even getting into a cab can bring on more problems.
For people like me, life can be very difficult at times. You know what I mean?