Do I Have Ms? I'm 17 And Scared.

Question

Asked by daughter-nature

Do I Have Ms? I'm 17 And Scared.

Hi,

I'm 17 years old, but when I was 13, I started to have some pretty weird and frightening symptoms. The first episode occurred when I had traveled to Seattle for the summer. I was fine one moment, but then all of the sudden I became numb pretty much everywhere, felt dizzy, I couldn't think, and I couldn't quite place what was wrong. I felt really terrified, but I couldn't articulate myself, so I just started crying out of nowhere and had a lot of trouble explaining to my parents what was going on. I remember being really scared. I remained in that state for about a month, and my parents brought me to the doctor, and they said that I was "fine" after a couple of blood tests. So my parents thought I was making it up.

The symptoms didn't return until two years later when I went to Hawaii, but were less severe than when they first started. For some reason though, after I took alavert (active ingredient loratadine), thinking it might be allergies, the symptoms had almost disappeared gradually by the end of the day. I'm confused though, because I've never heard of neurological symptoms to changing environments.

After that, I had little one-day bouts of it every six months or so, and the symptoms would always be relieved by the loratadine. The last flare up was last March right before my pre-calculus final. It happened after I had taken a nap (I am in college early on a pre-med track and live with my parents) after school. when I woke up, I felt like I was in a scary dreamland kind of state, was numb again, couldn't think or really remember anything, and emotionally distressed. There is more to it, but I can't really describe it. I'm a normal mature kid, but that day I ran downstairs to my parents and started sobbing like a kid---at 17--because I couldn't explain what was going on. I know that sounds pathetic, but it was the only way I could articulate myself.

My primary care doctor said she didn't know what was wrong, and told me to forget about it. She said "it could be anything" and might go away. Unfortunately my mom refuses to hear about it because she thinks I'm making it up "to get attention", but really, I don't want this, and it has been very terrifying for me. What could it be? Should I go to the doctor? And should I expect another flare up? Will it go away? It has been getting progressively better.

Thank you very much,

Kelley
Eastern Washington University

Answer

Hi Kelley,

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. So many people that have MS speak about a time when doctors told them it was all in their head, and no one believed them. That said, there is no way to determine what you are experiencing is MS until you see a neurologist. While the symptoms you describe do sound neurological in nature, there is truly no way to tell without an MRI and a neurologist's perspective.

You will have to explain to your parents that you want to see this doctor and prove that you are not making this up. I hope that they will see how important it is to find out what is going on. Avoiding a diagnosis is losing time that you could be treating the condition, whatever it may be.

I think it would be a good idea to contact your local chapter of the MS Society and find out the neurologist they recommend using. That way you will know you are getting someone reputable and won't waste your time on that effort.

Kelley, if you need someone to talk to about this I am available. I would also be happy to speak to your parents if that would be helpful. I've been living with MS for 21 years, and know the dynamic of trying to help people to understand something that is often unclear. Please feel free to email me directly at amy@nyu.edu.
Best,
Amy

Answered by Amy Gurowitz