“We believe you have multiple sclerosis”.
It’s weird isn’t it? The buzzing in your hands and feet seem to have moved into your head cavity and is now working off your thoughts. Or is that just me and how my body felt on that warm sunny day in May 2007?
Fully clothed, I stretched out on the bed in the day clinic cheerful and talking with the two nurses (Mary Kate and Pat) and telling them what had been going on the last few months. Lying in the white sterile room with the sun beaming in, there was something of A Space Odyssey: 2001 about the morning.
The double-vision and black spots in my sight that I could ‘fix’ if I rubbed my eyes or squinted; which the optician said was “optic neuritis, nothing to worry about. It’ll go away in a few weeks” (It did go away but it is also a major and common indicator of MS). There was the pain in my back that would give a ‘dart’ every so often. But, it was the numbness that was the strangest of all sensations- not ‘feeling’ my skin. It was like a sense ‘inskin’; the pins and needles that bothered me the most.
When the consultant arrived the curtains were pulled around my bed and the staff ‘stepped in’. It was like a scene from ER, Grey’s Anatomy or one of those dodgy hospital dramas…when people step in and the curtains are closed around you, you know the news isn’t going to be good. Shit… what is coming next? My hands and feet are still ‘buzzing’…
He was gentle but scrambled when he told me they believed I had Multiple Sclerosis. That day, I would have a lumbar puncture, to confirm the diagnosis. This procedure involves putting a needle in between the vertebrae to get to the spinal cord. Spinal fluid is extracted and analysed. It took seven attempts with one toe-curling experience when a not-very-confident doctor hit a nerve. It was like being slammed with a jolt of 1000 volts. Every hair on my body stood on end right to the tips of my toes. Bleugh.
The same day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and started on a course of intra-venous steroids to dampen down my immune system. It also was the day my life took a turn down a totally unexpected route and I began a new journey into unknown world that is living with a life-long, neurological condition. Little did I realise the rollercoaster ride ahead.