Tuesday, February 23, 2010

First Years With Multiple Sclerosis

The first MS attack my wife remembers was her left arm going numb from her shoulder to her finger tips. During that time, she was going to paralegal school and had recently moved to the Dallas area. She was 20 yrs old at the time. She went to see the doctors and they felt she had carpal tunnel syndrome. They gave her a wrist support and sent her home, diagnosing her with a pinched nerve. For weeks she was numb, then the feeling started to come back. Everyone felt as if this was an isolated incident and not a big deal. Almost a year later, at Thanksgiving, my wife started to have fuzziness in her left eye. This was after a busy day and it came on without warning. She noticed the problem as she tried to drive home and couldn't see well when she was passing cars. She went to bed that night not knowing what the issue was, then woke up the next day blind in that eye.

She immediately went to see the eye doctor and he gave my wife the diagnosis of MS. He explained that he had only seen this issue with patients that had Multiple Sclerosis. My wife's biological mom had been in contact with her adoptive father at the time so he knew that she could have MS. At that time, the doctors were still teaching that MS was not hereditary and my wife was one of the first cases of a mother/daughter with MS. Her eye doctor gave her steroids for the blindness and she was able to regain her sight after a few weeks. My wife was completely blind for a full week this first time before the sight began to come back. About the time that she had regained her sight completely back, her right eye went blind.

This happened the day after Christmas, and seemed to coincide with her menstrual cycle. This time my wife was hospitalized and put through testing for MS. She had an MRI done and a spinal tap. Neither one of these came back positive for MS. The MRI showed no lesions but her parents felt like it was definitely MS. Her father chose at this point to not continue any testing because as a pharmacist, he felt like it was futile. He felt like it was a waste because it wasn't like they could cure or really even help with the drugs that were available then. The doctors started her on steroids and her eyesight began to come back just like it had before.

About that same time my wife's mother attended a Yanni concert. During the concert he spoke about how his daughter was about to give birth, and about how she had MS. My wife's mother approached him after the concert and he took her aside and told her about Dr Roy L Swank. My in-laws called Dr. Swank's office and was lucky enough to get an appointment within a month due to a cancellation and her age. Because she was only 21 at the time, Dr. Swank wanted to see her as quickly as possible. My wife moved back home and went to see Dr. Swank. Dr. Swank confirmed the MS diagnosis and had her start the Swank MS diet. My wife moved back home and began the diet immediately.

For nine months my wife slept and kept a strict diet according to Dr. Swank's book. Right after the blindness issues, my wife had tingling in her legs and problems walking. She also started to have epileptic seizures in her left arm. She had the seizures for about a month, and the doctors had her take seizure medication. The seizures stopped after that month and she has not had any since. The leg issues continued off and on for the first six months after starting the diet. My wife's main memories of that first year of MS were sleeping all the time and being stuck at the house. She remembers how strict the diet was and how worried she was about breaking the diet. She has commented many times about how she was worried about eating a french fry, or potato chip, because it might make her blind. Even when I met her a few years later, she was still strict with her diet and wouldn't cheat due to fear that it would hurt her and cause an MS attack.

After the nine months of sleeping, my wife slowly began to go back to work and continue with her schooling. She continued to have mild MS issues, including fatigue, tingling in her legs/feet, tingling in her arms/hands and headaches. About two years after starting the diet, she went blind for her third time. This time the eye issues started right after rock climbing and hiking all day. About a year later, my wife and I met. I know there are many, many things I am leaving out about those first few years, but maybe this will give a big picture view of my wife's experience. I will try to get into more detail in later posts.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shooting Pain In Temples With MS

This past week has been a tough one. I had a kidney stone and stressed myself and my family to the limits. After an ER visit and a lot of pain, the kidney stone is gone, but the stress is hanging on. My wife was exhausted all of last week and woke up a few days ago with shooting pain in her temples. She had a dull headache, but she could handle that pain. What she couldn't handle was the pain that would hit every few minutes and would cause a searing pain in both temples by her eyes. Her eyes didn't necessarily ache, but when the pain hit, it would stop her in her tracks. She hadn't dealt with this kind of headache before, so we were a little unsure of what brought it on, but we feel like it was the way she had her head resting on her pillow.

We have been using special pillows for years after our Chiropractor recommended them. At first they were really uncomfortable and took a while to get used to, but now we both carry them everywhere and have a hard time sleeping without them. We have found our adjustments "stick" much better after we started using them, and we found ourselves sleeping better. The other morning she had tilted the pillow against the wall and was laying on it at an angle. While laying there she knew that her neck was sore, but didn't think it would bring on a headache. About 30 minutes later the pain hit and she knew then that she should have adjusted the pillow back correctly. I think it frustrates us both that it is so easy to create issues in our lives, not just with MS, but just life in general. We seem to cause a lot of our own misery by not resting enough, trying to do too much, eating poorly and a number of other things. Sometimes we seem to be our worst enemy. :)