Would you think that was multiple sclerosis? Neither did I at the time.
It’s been almost 10 years (April 2002) since I started feeling symptoms my brain recorded as a red flag. I don’t remember feeling anything worth noticing before that but I’m sure I felt fatigue, some stiffness, and some aches and pains before that but I passed it off as getting old. Yep, being the ripe old age of 25 is “getting old”. You know.
Right around that time I had decided to jump right into a heavy exercise routine, a strict diet, and I was working full time at a television station (need I say more about stress?–and that was 10 years ago…). My exercise routine included walking almost daily and I know I wasn’t wearing supportive sneakers at the time. I had “planned” to get some. Uh huh. Well I didn’t make it to that point when I started feeling this weird tingling on the bottom of my feet. It wasn’t anywhere else. Really. This kind of tingling was noticeable for sure.
So I thought perhaps my shoes were too tight. I tried loosening the laces because I thought maybe I was losing circulation…and it didn’t stop. So I figured perhaps it was time to get some really good supportive walking sneakers. Tried that. The tingling didn’t stop but hey I had more support. Sometimes the tingling (on the bottom of my feet–remember) would come and go. There seemed to be no pattern. (Looking back as I’m writing this, I’m sure there was a bit of a pattern–like perhaps I needed to rest some more but resting was foreign to me. Otherwise, I’m sure it was unpredictable because that is the best way to describe MS.) And then I had also been working as a Production Assistant on the side (needed to get that Production Experience for my resume and heck I was invincible so why not add more to my plate?) on a short film and can remember telling the Director that I could work on the set but I’d need to put my feet up here and there if the tingling got really bad. Hmmmm. That didn’t really help anything either…
Somewhere along the way I guess I had gotten too tired of having tingling on the bottom of my feet (just a little annoying and really hard to IGNORE…) and went to my HMO Primary Care Physician (HMO is noted on purpose because it’s quite relevant in so much of my story with the type of healthcare I was receiving especially in the beginning) and he wasn’t sure what to do with me. I don’t remember the exact timeline but I can remember having to start really pointing out to him that the tingling WAS NOT OKAY AND IT WAS NOT NORMAL. I really had to push him. This will become quite the theme of my health journey. This need to really push my doctors to help me in order to get any answers was my driving force to get me help. If I hadn’t started having MY OWN VOICE and hadn’t been so assertive and stubborn who knows how this all would’ve played out.
Because I was pushing my doctor to help me more, the blood tests started (and haven’t stopped since, to be honest). Then when that didn’t really come up with much, he FINALLY started trying to send me to Specialists. That’s pretty hard to do and is quite a rigamarole to get through all the approvals just to see a Neurologist when dealing with an HMO. Right before he sent me to a Neurologist, one of the most poignant lines he said to me that I can still remember is, “You don’t feel any tingling anywhere else right?”. So then of course I looked at him quizzically and my heart started beating just a little bit more (because I knew NOTHING about MS or anything of the sort). And then I responded with something like, “No. Why?”. And you know? He still avoided really answering me and kind of brushed it aside. Hmm. Makes me wanna kick his butt right now (knowing what I know now and all) just thinking about it. And I asked him again at least once more to elaborate and he said something dismissive like, “Well it could be something more serious. Especially if the tingling starts to go up the side of your leg or something, or it happens in your hands. But we’ll see what a Neurologist says”.
And that’s when the journey to find myself really started. Let’s just say, that first Neurologist and her partner DID NOT HELP ME AT ALL. That’s a whole other story for a whole other Blog. I’ll definitely be breaking up this story in a series of installments because it is quite a story. Not sure when I’ll be feeling up to writing the next part but you’ll know.
Thank you all for reading my Blog so far. It is really changing my life. Feel free to comment on any of my Blogs and you can email me by clicking a link on the “About Me” Page if you like! I’d love to hear from you!