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My Story: Seven Years of Frustration

by Pat Niel

To tell you my whole story would take forever, so I am going to start with those dreadful 7 years, and dedicate this story to all people with MS but especially those who went many years not knowing what was wrong.

I was a very active person, 2 kids a husband, a good job. I exercised to stay in shape and thought I had the world by the tail. In 1988, the company I worked for transfered me to Az. My husband and I packed up and away we went. Who was to know what life held in store for me at that time.

Shortly after our arrival I started having some weird problems that even I could not explain. It started with a pain in my lower back that affected my right leg. It was almost impossible to walk. I went to a new Dr because of course I was new there. Right away I needed to see a chiropractor. He said I didn't stand straight and that was my problem, yea right. So I went through several treatments to no avail. One day I got up and within a few minutes the pain was gone and left behind was a cold feelingless leg, but no more pain.

So life got back to normal for a while. It seemed like every time we had something stressful happen, which happened a lot in Az, I would come up with another strange problem. Now it was numb and tingley fingers and face. I still went to work but when my hands got to hurting I went to see the Dr again. He couldn't find anything wrong, so sent me on my way and told me to not work so hard.

This went on for many months and many years. Always the Dr couldn't find a problem, said nothing was wrong. Because my Mom had a stroke and my Dad had a bad heart I was really nervous when the numbness showed up one day in my left arm and side. Back to the Dr, who by this time I think was tired of seeing me, but they did check for stroke. Nothing again. He did send me to a nuero this time and that guy stuck needes in my legs, turned on the machine, made my legs cramp and then said there was nothing wrong again.

I did not want to go home and tell my husband again. I vowed that I wasn't going to the Dr again. No way was I going to let him tell me that I was crazy. Besides, with each new symptom after a few weeks or so it would go away and I would be fine. Maybe I was CRAZY.

This went on for several more years. Trauma in our lives on symptoms. Then in 1994, The company was sending me home to start a new office. Oh boy, at least I would be around family and Drs I knew. They would know what was wrong, and that I'm not crazy.

I thought that when a new sympton came up we could handle it. Well guess what, this time the Dr put me on hormones. Give me a break, was this a polite way of telling me there was nothing wrong.

In July, I went to take my drivers written test for my new Ia license. I failed it not once but five times. Never had I failed that test. I could not remember from one day to the next which answers I had right the day before. By this time my husband was worried and confused. My boss said that another major move like we just made in such a short time could cause stress (there it was again) and not to worry. Just wait a while and try again. I finally did get my new license, but I think the drivers license lady got tired of seeing me also.

Now we were ok until October. We were planning a trip to Wyoming for the Thanksgiving holiday to be with our son and family. Our daughter and family would be there also.

In October, my left hand started to get numb and tingley, but you can bet I was not saying a word to anyone. Nothing was going to interrupt my trip. I did tell my sister and she suggested the town chiropractor, maybe I had a pinched nerve and he could just fix it. I could not even pick up my left leg to get in the door. I didn't even feel the pain when the door shut on my heel and cut me pretty bad. This friendly Dr said nothing was wrong. Here we go again. He said I should see the Dr as I could have had a stroke. Absouletly not. I knew I hadn't and I was going to Wyoming.

By the time we left on our trip I was numb on my whole left side and my hands felt like someone was standing on them, but I hid it pretty well.

Now the end was coming. On Friday after Thanksgiving I saw and old friend who said "I saw the way you walked just now, I have a friend who was just dx with MS, and she walked the same way. Nothing more was said.

Saturday morning I was taking a shower, closed my eyes to wash my hair and down I went. Off to the hospital I went. My husband was upset to say the least that I had not told him about how bad this had gotten. Guess what they tested me for. A stroke. Finally the Dr came in and said that wasn't the problem. I could have told him that. He did say that they had a good neuro on call and he thought I should see him.

Well this guy was DIFFERENT. He did a few little things and said he would like me to stay there for a few days for tests. I said no, my husband and son said yes. I lost. Then I remembered the comment my friend made. 'Could I have MS?' I asked, He said 'I hate to insult you but you are too old'. What kind of answer is that?

So off we went to the 5th floor, the cancer ward, of course I didn't know that then, but my family did, I can't imagine what they went through for three days. I had all the tests they do to detect MS, I didn't know that either at the time.

Everyday the Dr came in with a smile, saying 'no news yet'. Then on the 3rd day , in he came. He shut the door, grabbed a chair, and he wasn't smiling. Of course I thought I was going to die. Then he said I may have MS!! What?! I thought I was too old! Well, I guess I wasn't. I was 46.

My whole life changed that day, as well as my family's. At Xmas I had another major attack which sealed the story in concrete. I absoloutly had MS. The Dr was quite concerned and asked 'why are you happy?', 'Because I now know I'm not crazy and this I can deal with', I said.

It took me a year to come to terms with it, and I can no longer work, but I walk most of the time and use a chair to shop. I started a support group a few years ago, and like to think I have helped people, especially people like me who thought they were crazy. To all of you out there I send my love and prayers, because God must have had a reason for this. Maybe some day he will choose to let us know what it is.

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