Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back Under Attack

Wow, time does fly. It's been 2 1/2 years since I've written in this blog, and a lot has changed in those 2 1/2 years.

Let's start with what hasn't changed...I still have MS. And I've gravitated back here for the same reason I started this in the first place. I'm having an attack.

I had an appointment scheduled for last week to touch base with my neurologist. I hadn't had a checkup in a long, long time because of my pregnancies (yes, that's plural), and we were long overdue to discuss my treatment options and check in on the disease. Before the appointment, I started to realize that I was having some problems. Everything looked OK on blood tests, and my opthamologist even checked me out. But things went from bad to worse. My blurred vision (not MS-related, just the typically growing older thing) was now double vision. There was an article in the most recent Inside MS magazine about vision issues, and there was double vision, prominently displayed right after optic neuritis.

Then I realized how much the room kept swaying around me...or me around it. At first I thought it was ordinary dizziness of a mother of two small children who spends way too much time in front of the computer, but it was more than that. As I read one of my MS books, the term vertigo stuck out at me. Vertigo refers to the sensation of movement, and that certainly applied to me. One evening, my husband and I were watching TV in bed, and the TV started to move downward. And it just kept getting worse.

So at the neurologist's office, I was told what I already knew, that I was in the middle of an MS attack. So the IV steroids started again, bringing immediate relief to the vertigo. Unfortunately, now that I'm using the steroid pills to wean down, the vertigo is coming back. Hope this is just a short-term thing. I don't know how people cope with vertigo for any period of time! My mom struggled with it when she was having some ear issues, and whoa, I have new appreciation for what she was going through.

I had to get back in the MRI tube. That's huge for me, since I'm a claustrophobe. It was better this time. I had it done at the same place, but they had a new machine which wasn't as completely dreadfully obnoxious as the previous one. This one was just dreadfully obnoxious. The folks knew exactly how to handle me, and I'm so grateful for their compassion. When the tech told me she could get through the whole set in 17 minutes and 51 seconds, even with dye, I was delighted. (Well, as delighted as I could be, given the fact they were about to stick me in that tube...)

Tomorrow night is my office's annual night-out at the Durham Bulls. Hubby and I are planning to go, but now I'm worried about it since it's so hot outside and I'm in the middle of an attack. With 100 degree heat on the forecast for later this week, I'm pessimistic on how I'm going to feel this weekend, when we're christening our younger son. This is supposed to be a fun and happy week. Instead, I'm wondering whether I'm going to be able to hold it together for the sake of my family. I've already asked hubby to stay home from church two weeks in a row because the vertigo was bothering me too much. I don't have a choice this upcoming week.

At least I'll have some answers. I'm meeting with my neurologist on Wednesday to discuss the MRI and decide on next steps. Right now, I'm hoping he tells me that the disease hasn't progressed too badly, and that we can still focus on efforts on drugs like Avonex or Copaxone. I think I'm going to try Copaxone this time, instead of Avonex. It means a lot more shots (daily vs. weekly), but the flu-like side effects of Avonex dragged me down so much for so long. And with two young children, I want to avoid that if at all possible. I'm already frustrated with how this damned disease is limiting my ability to parent my children how I want to, and I get choked up when I think about the treatment making that even more difficult.

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