This is my first blog post. My life and my vision are as blurry as the image above. Recently I began a series of tests to see if I have MS (Multiple Sclerosis.) Several months ago I woke up and I couldn’t see clearly. I couldn’t find my balance and I fell into the wall. I thought I had the worst migraine of my life. I stayed home in a cold, dark room and took plenty of migraine medication. The next day the headache lingered and the visual side effects remained, but I felt much better than the day before. However, 4-5 days per week I had a migraine and I had these little annoying lights. I had a hard time focusing and my vision was constantly blurry. I started to notice my cheeks were flushed and I remembered from pregnancy that occurred when my blood pressure was elevated. I started checking my blood pressure and it was in fact elevated. I scheduled an appointment with my primary physician. She told me that my elevated blood pressure was due to my uncontrolled migraines. She advised that I stop nursing my daughter and start taking the preventive medications (Topamax) that had previously worked for me. I was not ready to stop nursing my daughter. My precious Noelle was not ready to stop nursing either! Another month or so went on and the migraines, visual problems, and blood pressure issues were getting worse. I was standing in class (I’m a high school Biology teacher) giving instructions to my 5th period students. I clearly remember the words coming out of my mouth yet I had no idea what I was saying. I knew there was only one Polly, yet there appeared at that moment to be at least 3. I excused myself from class and walked the long hall to the office. I asked the nurse to check my blood pressure. The cuff kept reading error. “There must be something wrong with this cuff.” she said. Nope, I thought. There is something really wrong with me. I decided to lay on my left side in attempt to lower my blood pressure. She took it again, this time it read 217/114. “We need to call an ambulance Melinda” she said. “No thank you.” I said as I walked away, back down the long hall toward my class. I called my husband and asked him to take me to the hospital. I didn’t want to go by ambulance in front of all the high school students. I wanted to slip out the back door without anyone knowing.
We arrived at the hospital and I was quickly admitted. They tried for hours to get my blood pressure to respond. It would not come down. It just so happens my husband sells hay to a cardiologist – the head of cardiology at the best hospital in our area. So when my blood pressure wouldn’t respond and the doctors couldn’t explain it to his liking – he called in a favor. I was transported by ambulance to that hospital and placed under her care. One of the best things that has ever happened to me. She is awesome. I have no idea how many tests they ran, how many medications they tried but I know that she made sure I had the care I needed until my blood pressure was stable again. She even texted me after I went home from her personal phone to make sure I was taking the right doses of medication.
So great, my blood pressure is under control. But now my vision problems are still there and the left side of my face and my left arm and hand are still tingly and numb. The migraines are not improving and we still have no idea why my blood pressure was so high. So she, my cardiologist schedules a sleep study, a neurologist appointment, and a follow-up with her and my primary care doctor.
Less than 2 weeks later, the day before I was to return to work, I started feeling really weak and nauseous. My cardio doc had texted me to check on me and I told her how I was feeling. She told me she thought I was getting a viral infection and to hold off on my blood pressure medications. The next morning I woke up yet again and feel into the wall. This time, I couldn’t see out of my left eye. It was completely black. I stumbled down the hall off balance. I fell into the floor trying to make it to the bathroom. I did have a stomach virus and I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I couldn’t balance myself enough to stand up and so I crawled and vomited at the same time back towards to the bedroom. Crying out to my husband he carried me to the bathroom and laid me naked in the bathtub as I puked and well you know ….both ends. I was so weak, I couldn’t hold my head up. He called the doctor and then the ambulance.
When I arrived at the hospital this time my blood pressure was 80/50. They couldn’t get an IV started and after about 8 attempts the first nurse left in frustration. Another nurse joked. “If you want me to draw that amount of blood I’m going to need to cut her arm off, she’s dry as a bone.” Finally they placed the IV and I began receiving fluids. My blood pressure wasn’t responding. They tilted me upside down in order to make sure I was getting enough oxygen to my brain. I waited and trembled. Then I heard the cheers coming from the nurses station. They were cheering for me? Yes. They were cheering for me. My blood pressure was going up. I was being admitted again. I would be there for several more days. More tests, more blood work. Still no answers.
Once the virus was resolved and my blood pressure was stable I was released again. I could return to work in a few days. So I did. I had lost my breast milk by this time and had to stop nursing. I was on medications for blood pressure, migraines, mood, pain, and allergies. Life seemed to return to the old normal. Except for the tingling, numbness, vision problems and NO ANSWERS!
After the sleep study results came back, I was told I had mild sleep apnea. By the way, I’m only 37 and I’m not overweight. So results like that seem strange to everyone. So off to primary care doctor I went. She suggested Botox for the migraines. Those can only be given by a neurologist. She also suggested that I have my hysterectomy since my menstrual cycle is the major cause of my migraines. At my follow up with my cardiologist, she agreed. Have the hysterectomy and get the Botox injections. So off to the gynecologist I went. We scheduled the hysterectomy.
Next up, the neurologist. This appointment was in May. What she said to me shocked me. I almost ignored her. She spoke and I just looked at her. I changed the conversation and started talking about something else. In my mind, I thought, she has to mention things like this just in case, but not me. Anyways, let’s talk about what really could be wrong with me.
“You have a lesion on your brain.”
Ok. Now what. Well it could be from all the migraines. It could be from head trauma. It could be MS. The next steps in diagnosing MS are ….You know on Charlie Brown when the parents talk, that’s all I heard…pay attention Melinda – I thought. Since you are having the visual side affects, balance and numbness issues you might want to consider….back to Charlie Brown parents.
“How aggressive do you want to be in diagnosing this lesion?”
“Well, I have a surgery planned on May 31st and I would like to get past that before I focus on anything else.”
In other words, I’m avoiding this conversation as long as I possibly can. Cue my wonderful cardiologist who had to clear me for surgery. She reviewed my neurologist’s notes. “Melinda, why are you waiting to get the MRI of your C-spine?” Ummmmmm. Needless to say that didn’t go over well. I had the MRI the night before my surgery.
So today, I’m home recovering from surgery. I’m in pain emotionally and physically. My neurologist called with the results of the MRI. I have mild bulging discs -no big deal. No lesions on your c-spine- awesome! You have enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of your neck. They are much more pronounced on your left than your right. I would like you to follow up with your primary care physician to have an ultrasound to see why they are enlarged – not awesome.
So my little medical mystery is still unsolved. I’m still in pain, I still have blurry/double vision, high blood pressure, migraines, and tingling/weakness on my left side. Every test they run seems to only uncover another problem instead of provide an answer or closure.
So my new normal is blurry. I have just enough clarity for the moment I’m in. Every other moment I will rest securely in the strong arms of my loving Father, who’s grace is sufficient. Who’s strength is perfect in my weakness. Even this He will use to work good in my life.
So if you’re reading this and joining me on this journey. My prayer for you is this, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Cor 1:4