Monday, October 17, 2011

How I got MS

And the answer is...? No one really knows. But no one really knows what causes MS in general. No one else in my family has MS; although MS isn't hereditary, people with close family members that have MS are more likely to have it then the general population. Women have MS at rates double to that of men so that certainly didn't help my odds. MS seems to occur less frequently in populations that live near the Equator so growing up in the Midwest doesn't really help there. I had a pretty bad case of Mono a few years ago which may have increased my odds. And then there is this new theory that working all those late nights may have put me at risk.

Despite however I may have ended up with MS, I was officially diagnosed about two weeks ago. In the beginning of September, I started experiencing numbness and tingling in my legs. It progressed up to my ribs. I was able to see a doctor fairly quickly and was referred to a neurologist. The neurologist did some tests to check for nerve damage and after not finding any he ordered several blood tests and a MRI. I didn't have Lyme disease or Lupus. The MRI showed that I had 2 lesions on my spinal cord. These lesions are basically scars (see the About Multiple Sclerosis page for more information). One of these lesions was showing active inflammation which is what is causing most of my symptoms. I also had a brain MRI done. This showed "several" inactive lesions and 2 or 3 very small active ones.

We know that the issues I had last year at my wedding (mostly numbness and tingling) were caused by an MS attack or flare up. This may not have been the first attack I have had. It is possible that what was suspected as tendonitis in my knee a few years ago was an attack as well. It is impossible to match up attacks and lesions that show up on the MRI scans. And I could have an attack without an active lesion showing up.

Overall, the time it took to diagnose my MS was very quick. It takes some people decades to find this out so I'm glad that I can move onto treating instead of still being stuck in limbo land. I chanced upon some great doctors who took immediate action instead of just waiting and seeing. I really like my neurologist so far who just happens to specialize in MS. I don't really know why I ended up with him as my doctor as he isn't supposed to be accepting new patients but I'm glad I did.

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