Multiple Sclerosis Patient Journey

Published 01/17/13


Lisa Emrich tells her story about her MS Diagnosis.


Hi. I promised you that I would share my diagnosis story and I am. Ten years ago on this Tuesday in March, I woke up not being able to see very well out of my right eye. It appeared as if somebody had taken Vaseline and smeared them all over my glasses. I was terribly upset and the reason was, is I had been at the eye doctor the day before because something just didn't seem quite right and I didn't know what it was. He didn't see anything unusual going on. So I called and went in immediately, first thing in the morning, and had exam and still, nothing physically was showing up. But when my optometrist used some different colored pipe cleaners and asked me to identify different colors, I completely failed the test. I don't remember what colors I picked when he asked me to choose something specific, but they were incorrect. He called a retina specialist and said, "I'm sending over a patient that I want you to see immediately." So I went to see that doctor the very same morning, who did their special exam. He said, "You don't need me. You need a neuro-ophthalmologist. I'm calling so-and-so immediately and seeing if they can get you in today." Wow. Three doctors in one day. Big rolling event, and this happened to be the same Tuesday that I was performing at some kiddie concerts with the Fairfax Symphony. Well, I missed the first concert because of the first two appointments. But I made the second concert and then went over to the neuro-ophthalmologist appointment and saw this doctor. They did some further testing with visual fields and also a really unique test using a bottle of eye drops, that the lid was red. The doctor asked me to tell him what color the lid was when he held them to my side. Then he brought them around. I said they were brown, and when he brought it to the center they looked red, and I thought, "When did you change that?" Well, my color vision was changing. Also things were getting dark and dim. He was going to send me for an MRI, and he did, and lots of blood work to try to rule out other things and he was very straightforward. He told me that it was going to get worse before it got better, and it certainly did get worse. I went completely blind in my right eye. He also told me that on the MRI they were going to be looking for several things. Either a brain tumor, or spots, or lesions. If there were lesions found it was likely that it could be related to MS. It didn't mean it would be, but it could be. Well the MRI showed inflammation, but no lesions. He treated me with high- dose prednisone and told me to be patient and sure enough, it took over two months before my vision returned. Then he just called it optic neuritis, post-viral. I had had a really nasty cold the week before, and I went on my merry way. Fast forward to 2005. I was having trouble with my left hand. It just felt tingly and a little numb and my fingers weren't feeling very coordinated. Well I thought that I had pinched a nerve in my neck because I swam into a woman in the pool. My doctor and I, we said, "Okay, let's watch it." Well a month later, the numbness had traveled up my arm and over my shoulder blade. Uh oh, something is happening. She sent me for an MRI and they found lesions in my neck. Then she referred me to a neurologist, who repeated the MRI, this time with contrast, and also put me through many of the standard tests, including the spinal tap, the dreaded lumbar puncture. When that came back, I earned a probable MS diagnosis. I fulfilled one criteria, there was proof of demyelination in one location and one event. I also got a week of Solu-Medrol, which if you've ever done it, you know it's no fun at all. Well two months later, I had another MRI and it showed new lesions. Bingo. I fit the criteria. I earned an MS diagnosis. That took basically from March 2000, with the first event, to October 2005, just over five years. Then, I've had MS since then and there have been ups and downs. I had several relapses. I've recently changed medications. I'm doing much better because of that and also am very active. Maybe not physically active, but mentally active, and active here online, especially in our community at health central. So, although, MS is not fun, and I'm not glad that I have it, I am glad to be part of this community. I'm really thankful that all of you, out there, welcome me into your computers and communicate with me, because it helps me, I'm sure just as much as it helps you. I'm just a patient, like all of us, and I'm thankful for the support and comradery. So, we're going to hear a few more diagnosis stories this week and I truly hope that you will share yours. Until next time, take care. Bye.

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