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Tuesday, June 4, 2013 12:02 AM | Denise Baillie Volg link

When I was 13 I had a serious bicycle accident...I was riding as fast as I could and a dog attacked my bike; I went flying and landed head-first on the pavement and didn't fully regain consciousness for at least 12 hours.  Within a couple of years I began noticing things - I had a constant headache, I could no longer run, and in high temperatures I had a tendency to faint.  I was just a kid so I didn't really think anything of it - I couldn't run so I didn't, I couldn't take the heat, so I didn't do things when it was hot.  Others noticed my limp and my crooked smile, but I never did, or at least I never really took any notice of it.  By the time I was in my early twenties I knew something was wrong with me and I had to get treatment - my heart would 'flutter' (it literally felt like a bird flapping around in my chest); and then began my first experiences with doctors not believing me, misdiagnosing me and/or writing me off as a hypochondriac.  Symptoms worsened and came and went, and still no doctors took me seriously - "You're imagining things, you're as healthy as a horse" was probably the most common phrase I heard from doctors.  I went on, I couldn't get anyone to believe anything was systemically wrong with me; so I started trying to get help for some of my symptoms.  I got a surgery to fix a deviated nasal septum, but I still couldn't breathe through one side of my nose.  I got my hearing checked because I had a constant ringing in my ears (and was just told I'd have to 'live with it').  I quit smoking and got a breathing assessment because I couldn't take a deep breathe and if I got winded it was really hard to catch my breath - that one wound up getting me diagnosed with adult-onset asthma).  I was frequently bloated and often had digestive issues and wound up getting an endoscopy to look for ulcers and eventually having my gallbladder removed.  My monthly cycles went completely haywire - to the point that I went to the emergency room because I was afraid I was bleeding to death.  I kept trying to fix a gushing artery with a bandaid, because no-one else was willing to do what needed to be done to find out what was actually wrong and fix it.

  One morning in July 2006 I woke up and started getting ready for work as usual.  In the shower I checked the water temperature with my left foot and it didn't feel warm enough so I turned up the heat.  I then checked the temperature with my right foot and nearly scalded it!  I was late for work, so I just went on with my day...I guess I had been taught well to doubt myself when it came to health issues.  By the end of the day I was starting to drag my left foot.  at home that night I checked my ability to feel temperature - and I felt no temperature (hot OR cold) with my left foot; I continued with a bag of frozen peas and had lost sensation up to just under my breast on the left side.  The next morning I had lost virtually all sensation and most of the function of my left leg and lower torso.  There was no hiding my dragging left leg; I called my doc and got an appointment - squeezed in that day..  I was held up in traffic by a car accident and was too late getting to the doctors office so they wouldn't let me see him....I made the mistake of trying to go to a medicentre that night.  The 'doctor' there took the needle from a syringe and stabbed my leg and said "yes, it's numb - I'll send you for a back x-ray" - despite the fact that I did not hurt my back.  Fortunately my doctor called me the next day and told me to go to the University of Alberta emergency room (he said they have the best neurology dept.) and he called them to let them know I was coming.  I spent THREE DAYS on one of those slabs in the emergency room with not enough to eat or drink and no access to a shower.  They poked and prodded and scanned me and after me getting dehydrated for 3 days, they did a lumbar puncture; needless to say, I was in agony.  After that they finally put me in a room and I didn't care how much pain I was in, I HAD to have a shower!  They paraded every neurological resident in front of me (I guess it's not a good sign when the resident exclaims "is that ever weird!" and after one more MRI they sent me home with a 'tentative' diagnosis of transverse myelitis with a "miniscule" chance that it might be MS.  Well, since transverse means that it would be across my entire spine, so would affect both sides but only my left side was affected I knew it wasn't the former; and sure enough another MRI a few months later showed new lesions and I officially was diagnosed with MS in January 2007.