I got my eyes checked recently for the first time in several years. While my vision seemed fine, (the prescription is virtually unchanged) the glasses I’ve been wearing all that time have been held together with a paper clip, and it just feels like it’s time to get new ones, maybe update my look. In the course of the exam, my history of optic neuritis came up, but oddly I couldn’t remember which eye had been affected, or exactly when it was. I dug into my journal and found the information, (November of 2003, right eye) and got distracted reading about the events leading up to, and immediately after, my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
In a classic case of if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now, it was almost amusing to read of my mysterious and sudden fatigue, the gradual onset of foot drop and numbness in my right leg, in the week or so before the optic neuritis set in. Almost amusing to follow the process of the vision in my right eye getting cloudy and almost winking out. Remembering wearing an eye patch at work, and when people asked what was wrong, telling them, “Pirates. Don’t ask.” Almost amusing to read of my befuddlement and confusion, wondering what was going on. Almost.
Perhaps I was better off not knowing what I know now. My primary care doc, when I presented my wonky right foot, may have suspected. But wisely fended me off with, “Oh, it’s probably nothing,” sparing me the panic until he was sure. I had gone to an eye doctor about the weird encroaching blindness. He seemed a bit befuddled, and mentioned optic neuritis as a possibility. I went home and asked The Google about that, and came back with multiple sclerosis. I read a bit more about MS, and after few appointments with a neurologist – and a spinal tap that did not live up to my fears – my primary doc came back with the dx. I pretty much already knew.
My immediate reaction was understandably dark and frightening. I instantly felt alone and felt my world collapsing. I wondered where MS would lead me. I wondered how bad it would get. I wandered through a few online forums looking for connection and information. I went to one terrifying meeting of a local support group (all those people with canes and wheelchairs!). Eventually I came to the conclusion that, at the moment at least, it was no more than a bother. A bit of stumbling, a bit of tiredness, and some lingering concerns that I managed to put onto a side burner. I still harbor that same concerns, tempered with a little experience and a lot more information. A strange trip that has only just begun.