MRI Terror

I have been searching for first hand MS experiences on WordPress for almost a week now. I can’t believe the outpouring of support and the warmth from this community- you folks are amazing.

My curiosity has now turned to terror about the brain MRI. It sounds as though it’s bloody horrific!!! I had a spinal when I had my daughter so that isn’t as much a concern for me- I know what to expect.

Any tips for someone who suffers from some claustrophobia. Is there a panic button? Should I request sedation? My doctor said brain MRI but my spine is a huge issue- is that a separate scan?

Thanks in advance for your insights.

Cheers,

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Sleep Apnea- Seriously?

Its been a crazy week…

Investigations for a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis has now led me to sleep apnea testing- Seriously?

I don’t feel that I have sleep apnea. I guess we are ruling out all possible causes for fatigue. After results that sinus bradycardia earlier this week I am quite happy to have this test done. Clearly, you really don’t know what’s wrong with you until you go looking. On the flip side, you do get assurances of what is working well.

Two nights ago I had to wear this crazy mess of equipment. It measured my heart rate and my breathing quality during my slumber.

I didn’t get hooked up until 11:30 that night. I knew they needed me to have 4 solid hours of sleep, but I couldn’t turn off my mind. After the abnormal electrocardiogram, every pain that I have on my left side now scares me. It seems like a lot of my pain mimics cardiac symptoms. I’m pretty confident it’s not cardiac because I’d probably be dead by now.

I woke up a couple of times during the first hour. I mentally made note of the times because I wanted to see how accurate the report would be. I should have written it down because I couldn’t remember the times the next morning- brain fog at its finest! The sleep company however was able to tell me the exact times. I guess, I shouldn’t be such a cynic.

Somehow, I managed to get in 6 hours of sleep. I think it was a solid sleep as I woke up with an imprint of the nasal prong tubing deep into my right cheek.

I dropped off the equipment as soon as they opened. I really want to get answers as quickly as possible. I was contacted within the hour with an update. It helped that I have a connection at that office. The final report would go to my doctor in about a week.

To my surprise they told me that I did not have sleep apnea. I only had a couple sleep events, all minor and typical- there was no need for any sleep equipment. Fantastic- I can cross sleep apnea off the list as we narrow the search.

They did let me know that I had sinus bradycardia. Unfortunately, that meant it wasn’t a one-off or an equipment error as I had hoped. In fact, my heart was beating ten less beats per minute at rest (awake or asleep) compared to my electrocardiogram results. I guess it was good to have a 6 hour look at my hearts conduction system compared to the one minute ecg tracing.

I was hoping that they would have had better news about my heart rate. I guess it’s not all bad, I don’t have sleep apnea. No need for expensive equipment. I’m trying so hard to see the glass half full.

My doctor is waiting for the cardiology final and then I’ll be back in to see her in another week. I still have no zinc results…I wonder why they take longer than the DNA tests? (not that the Zinc levels will likely change anything)

Much love for listening,

Be Still My Heart

Image result for heart beat

Yesterday, as I carefully screened my lab work, my cursor hovered over the final report for my electrocardiogram. The screen said the test was final and that the report had been sent to the Cardiologist for final review. I didn’t think to open it…why would I?

This morning, I logged back onto the lab website to see if my Zinc test had come back. It was the only value missing. Disappointed that it was still missing, I went to close the window when I noticed a small box in the top right hand corner of my screen. I clicked on it and it opened up to a pdf of my electrocardiogram tracing.

To my surprise, there was a notation in bold letters on the front- Abnormal ECG!!!

HOW DID I MISS THIS LAST NIGHT?

I was so consumed by seeing the lab results come in yesterday, that I didn’t even worry about the cardiac as it wasn’t a concern, not at all.

My word…my heart- how could that be? I have a strong heart, everyone always tells me so. The heart of a well conditioned athlete they said. Sure, my heart rate is slow but that is due to my high level of fitness right?

Who am I kidding, my fitness is non-existent. Its hard to be fit when you can’t maintain your balance doing the simplest of tasks and your muscles alternate from tired to spasmodic all the time. I stopped running after multiple drop foot experiences and one major fall. I used to be fit…I miss being fit…

Does this mean that the tightening around my chest, shooting arm pain, finger tingling and jaw pain are actually cardiac symptoms? It makes sense but all tests showed other wise previously. Now, I need to see a cardiologist to rule out heart disease.

I had accepted the possibility of neurological disease, I am not ready for cardiac too…

When it rains it pours…

Tick Tock

Time seems to stand still when you are waiting for answers. I think it’s the hardest time for me because it seems to be the time that my mind is at its busiest.

Step 1- Doctor Appointment,  Explain Symptoms, Ask For Help  ✅

Step 2- Blood work, Electrocardiogram (Search for causes other than MS)

It felt good to take another step forward in my quest for answers. I may not be able to control my body, but I can control the speed that my lab work gets completed. I planned to visit the lab first thing in the morning because physically and cognitively it is my finest time. As the day progresses, my body warms up and my brain tires, which is me at my worst…not a good time for lab work.

I decided to go as soon as the lab opened…that was a mistake. I arrived to find a long line of people standing outside. The line was filled with patients that had been fasting, as well as elderly folks that needed their INR tests completed. Eventually, the lab doors opened and they herded us in like cattle to a small waiting area. The room smelled of rubbing alcohol, unbathed bodies and the unmistakeable scent of perfume favoured by an older generation. I covered my nose with my sweater to muffle the noxious smells. I hate waiting rooms.

There is a certain amount of vulnerability about publicly waiting to get lab work done. Nobody was there just for shits and giggles. I felt a bit of shame and much like a voyeur as I heard each person check in and answer confidential questions about their health. My eyes nervously skirted the room as I waited. I was careful to avert my eyes from the gaze of the other patients in the room. If nobody saw me, then I wasn’t there. Each time the door opened I prayed that nobody I knew was entering the building. I needed a level of anonymity as I searched for my truth.

After 40 minutes, I was elated to see my name on the waiting room queue… the overhead screen indicated that I only had an estimated wait time of 22 more minutes. At least I would only be two hours late for work…sigh…time stood still.

They directed me to a room to lay down for my lab work. I had fainted in the past so I was considered a liability. I didn’t mind being sent to a different room, it got me out of the very visual and smelly waiting area. In fact, it felt like a Cadillac type service compared to the usual procedure. I was lost in my thoughts when the technician asked me to undress for my electrocardiogram. It was then that I noticed the 8 collection tubes filled with my dark red blood- did I faint again? The only thing I felt was the pinch at the end when she took the butterfly needle out of my arm.

The electrocardiogram is a one of those non-event, painless procedures that sounds like you are getting a lobotomy or something. It takes longer to hook up all of the leads than it does to run the one minute test. The last time I had one done was ten years ago when I raced to the ER fearing a heart attack, which in hindsight was likely a MS hug.

Throughout the day I nervously logged on to the lab website to check my results. The majority of the results were posted by dinner time. They showed no obvious underlying infections, zero signs of inflammation, my thyroid is working well and my ferritin is the highest (although still chronically deficient) it’s been since I started menstruating. My electrolytes and liver function tests- all normal. Clearly, the vitamins I take have helped because my magnesium was at the high end of normal and my B12 doubled from my lab work two years ago. A B12 deficiency would have been a welcome relief as an explanation for my symptoms, I had hoped that this would be my truth.

How could everything be normal when I feel so abnormal?

My double strand DNA and ENA results came in later that night- all negative- “no antibodies present”. The lab tests ruled out Lupus and any connective tissue disorder. And just like that, in one day, it appeared that my symptoms are neurologic in nature. My gut already knew that truth but one can’t help but hope for a different outcome.

Once again, I am out of the drivers seat as I wait for the brain MRI and further neurological testing.

tick…

          tock…

do i have ms?

I rushed so I wouldn’t be late for my appointment but instead arrived twenty minutes early. I circled the block a few times and parked a few minutes away by the harbour. I was in no hurry to wait inside, too much time would invariably send me out the door. I stared out the windshield at the depressing grey skyline and contemplated how I would broach the subject. As my thoughts drifted, rain drops silently distorted my view of the boats in the marina. This melancholy day set the appropriate tone for my head space.

Today’s appointment is my first real attempt to decipher the symptoms that have plagued my body since University. Now, in my early 40’s, the list of plausible excuses for my physical and cognitive decline has been exhausted and I fear discovery. My family has long considered me a hypochondriac, despite being blissfully unaware of the majority of my symptoms. I can no longer justify my extreme fatigue and bizarre symptoms, I want to run from the hell that is my reality…the jig is up.

I can no longer hide from the inevitable question…do I have MS?

I sat in my doctors office, unsure of how to start the conversation. I rehearsed over and over in my head how to initiate the dialogue…how does one casually ask to be tested for MS? I spent the last two days writing out my symptoms, providing specific examples of falls, muscle spasms and weakness- all to justify my appointment.

My goal for diagnosis is simple…reassurance that I am not losing my mind. My body is failing me and I need something tangible to define these changes…I need to be taken seriously. I’m up for the challenge, I have been dealing with it for the better part of two decades…it just hasn’t been labelled. I’m an organizer, I need to plan for progression and more than anything I need to know for my children. I see the reality of progression in the body of my Father and my greatest fear is the risk for my daughters.

I have known since I was 20 that I have an autoimmune disease, it has always been the only rational explanation. My symptoms have been sporadic and easy to dismiss by virtually everyone, including myself. I was happy to settle with being labelled as anxious by my previous doctor- being defined by the catch phrase of my generation is somewhat easier to accept than realizing that my body is dying from the inside out.

My doctor walked in and I rambled about my plethora of symptoms and my suspicions about MS. She has only been my doctor for a year so I had no idea how she would respond. She thoroughly read my three page description of symptoms and was supportive of my decision to investigate. She ordered a long list of blood work, an ecg and a brain MRI. As well, she referred me to a Neurologist in the city. It’s hard to believe that I could be excited about searching for a diagnosis, but I am. There is something incredibly freeing about choosing to no longer live in denial. 

My doctor wasn’t entirely convinced that I have MS, she felt it could also be a number of other connective tissue disorders or other autoimmune illnesses. Regardless of the outcome, she is committed to finding answers. It was the first time in twenty years that I felt heard. 

I hope you will follow me on my journey towards disease. It isn’t a question of if but a question of what…and so begins the journey.