Scary Days of Life

By: Jon Wegner

This is the second installment of my three part series about the diagnosis of my multiple sclerosis.

In January of 1991 I went to get my eyes checked at a Benson Optical. The optician gave me a different prescription. I thought this might solve my blurry vision when I ran problem. However, the first time I jogged my right eye again clouded up like it had done in the past. And just to make me mad it did it in the exact same place as before! You may question how I can remember this from 16 years ago but the diagnosis time is in my brain for the rest of my life! I was still having some tingling in my right arm and leg so I went to a chiropracter and he cracked my back. He thought that my sciatic nerve was pinched and that would take care of the tingling. It did but only for a week and then the tingling feelings came back to my right arm and leg. I was starting to go crazy wondering what the heck was wrong with me!

Around that time I read, heard on TV or a friend told me about multiple sclerosis. I also went to a Pearl Vision Center to have my eyes checked again. I wanted to see if the Benson optician knew what he was doing and had given me the right prescription. I told the Pearl guy about my blurry vision when I jogged. The Pearl optician checked my eyes and said it was the right prescription and I asked him if this could be MS. He said it could be and if the symptoms continue that I should see an ophthalmologist (doctor of the eyes). So I kept on jogging every day and my right eye kept on getting blurry at the very same location of my run.

It was turning to spring in Minnesota and everybody was getting outside. I decided to join a softball team. One night while I was at practice I was playing catch with another player. I had a very freaky thing happen to me. I would see the ball leave the other person's hand and then on the flight between us it disappeared. The ball would reappear seconds before hitting my glove! Wow! What the heck was this now! Now that was strange and my head started whirring again. A couple of days later I scheduled an appointment with an ophthalmologist and again he confirmed that the Benson and Pearl opticians were correct. I also asked him about mutiple sclerosis and if this could be that disease.

Like the Pearl opticians he said it could be but I should see a neurologist to do some tests and get this figured out! He gave me the business card of a neurologist that he knew.

It was then that I decided to go to the library and get a book on multiple sclerosis. Sure enough some of the symptoms and problems I'd been experiencing for the past year and a half were in the book. My head was spinning as I thought to myself, what would I do if I had MS? I didn't sleep well for a week in anticipation of my appointment. It may seem like I was putting off all these appointments for a week but remember I was still running my carpet cleaning business. I was working days and nights and I suppose a part of me didn't want to find out what I thought was going to be bad news! So I scheduled an appointment with the neurologist and I went in and explained what had been happening to me. He then scheduled some tests for me.

The first test I had was what I call the strobe light test. I put on a skull cap connected to wires and the neurologist put a strobe light abut 6-12 inches from my face and turned it on. That test was to check my reaction to the light. I think it also measured how my optic nerve was reacting to the light. The second test was an electroencephalography (EEG) which records brain waves. Again I had the skull cap on with wires attached to it. It's used to detect the level of electrical activity in the brain. Your brain cells communicate by electrical impulses and an EEG measures and records these electrical impulses to detect anything abnormal.

The last test I took was a spinal tap. My neurologist had trouble finding the spinal fluid in my back. I think it was his first day ever doing it. There are different ways to get a sample of spinal fluid. Lumbar puncture, commonly called a spinal tap, is the most common method. The test is usually performed in the following manner:

- The patient must lay on his or her side, with the knees pulled up toward the chest, and the chin tucked downward. Sometimes the test is done with the person sitting up, but bent over.
- After the back is cleaned, the health care provider will inject a local numbing medicine (anesthetic) into the lower spine.
- A spinal needle is inserted, usually into the lower back area.
- Once the needle is properly positioned, spinal fluid pressure is measured, and fluid is collected.
- The needle is removed, the area is cleaned, and a bandage is placed over the needle site. The patient is often asked to lie down for a short time after the test. I was told to lay in the hospital bed 4 more hours and then rest at home.

The doctor tried twice to find the spinal fluid and was ready to send me to x-ray to find it when I told him to try one more time. On the third try he found the spinal fluid and was able to extract what he needed. Then I had to lay in the hospital bed for four hours. If you sit up too fast you will get severe headaches. The neurologist gave me some pain killers and sent me home where I rested for the remainder of the day! A spinal tap is normally 99.9% correct if a person has MS or not. Guess what? I passed the spinal tap test so it looked like I didn't have multiple sclerosis!

You need to remember that I wasn't married and I didn't have a steady girlfriend when I was going through all this! I was living by myself and didn't have any support system that I could talk to about this stuff! If I remember correctly my parents drove up to visit me while I was laying down. Even after the fours hours in the hospital I had to stay laying down for the rest of the day. My mind was wandering alot expecting the worst and making plans for my life if the results turned out to be MS. I'm not a weak person but I think it's natural for your mind to think the worst. At least mine did!

Other than my parents I didn't have anyone close to me to talk about all the things that were happening to my body. My head was thinking of all the bad stuff that could happen. Looking back I remember every new tingling sensation or feeling that I had brought on more questions. This eventually led me down a path of anxiety and panic attacks. I suffered with those most of the 90's and still periodically suffer from then now! The only difference now is that I know what it is and how to battle it! I might write another e-book about anxiety because I have so much to say about it.


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