Monday, June 4, 2007

The Third Attack - 1995

In 1995, relations with the Russians had warmed up to the point where the US space shuttle docked with the Russian space station Mir. The future of DoD and my job was in doubt because there was no clear ‘bad guy’ like Russia threatening the US any longer from outside the borders, but there was still a lot of disruption in the world. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin had been assassinated. There was also a lot of disruption about to take place in my personal life.

In March 1995, I had a fuzzy patch in my eye again, but I didn’t panic this time. I knew what to expect and wasn’t worried. I went to the eye doctor on March 27, my 36th birthday. I was nauseated from the jerkiness of my vision and was disappointed to think that I would not be able to go out to dinner for my birthday, which I had been looking forward to for weeks. Sitting in the dimly lit room of the ophthalmologist while he made notes in my chart, he mumbled “I’m referring you to a neurologist.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you have MS,” he blandly stated.
“What?!!!” I cried.
“I thought you knew” he replied, and kept writing.
Happy Birthday to me.

The next day I got a call from a kind nurse asking when she could come over to my house and hook me up to an IV for five days of intravenous steroids.
“What?!!!” I cried.
“I thought you knew” she smoothly responded.
Apparently someone thought that a five-day dose of IV steroids was ordered. I didn’t agree because I was still reeling from the diagnosis and confusion and was put on pills instead.

This attack was the first time the possibility of Multiple Sclerosis was ever brought to my awareness. My visit to a new neurologist revealed that “maybe” I have it. Maybe not. He ordered an MRI, but because I have a metal pin in my left ear (due to previous surgery to remove a calcium deposit from my middle ear) I was unable to have one. The neurologist said that he could do a spinal tap but the only option for treatment was to give myself a shot for the rest of my life (at that time, Betaseron, the first interferon drug used to slow the progress of MS was still in trials).

“You might not have any more symptoms and this might be as bad as it gets. So unless you are willing to give yourself a shot everyday for the rest of your life, don’t bother getting a spinal tap or having any other tests.”

Of course I was not willing to give myself a shot everyday just to keep from wearing an eye patch every two years, so the neurologist basically discouraged me from further testing or considering any treatment. That is how I became a “Maybe Baby” – maybe I have MS, maybe not – and stayed one for years.

It never dawned on me to mention that strange shock I got when I looked at my feet.

And then OJ was acquitted.

CONTINUE TO THE NEXT SECTION - 'THE FOURTH ATTACK'

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