Everyone who has MS has an episode that started it all. Here is mine:
It was Memorial Day, May 2008. The Artist had let me sleep in a bit since he had the day off. When I finally made my way out of my oh-so-comfy bed and into the kitchen for breakfast, the kids had already eaten and were playing in their room. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down to eat. I took a bite. Something felt a little bit off. I took another bite. Yep, definitely off. You know what it feels like when you sit on a hard chair for a long time without moving much...when part of your body has fallen asleep, but isn't at the tingling stage yet? Well, that is what my face felt like. Half of my face anyway. The right half of my face, both inside and out, was numb. Not totally numb, but enough to make me wonder. I tried to make myself believe that I had just slept on it wrong and that it would be back to normal in no time. Then pushed all thoughts of my face aside to get ready for the day.
We were having friends over for a BBQ and I had lots to do. Food to prepare, a house to clean, children to bathe. You know the drill. But the thing is, my face kept getting more numb as the day wore on. By evening I was a little bit more than concerned. I had had this feeling all day that it wasn't nothing and that I needed to act as soon as possible. I had tried calling my mom several times that day to get her opinion, but she was busy and never answered her phone. She finally called me back right after we had eaten dinner. I excused myself from my friends so I could hear what my mom had to say. Well, if you know my mom...which you probably don't...then you know that she is not one to mince words. She has been a nurse for 30-years and has seen it all! She told me that it was probably just a pinched nerve, but that it could be any number of things: Bell's Palsy, a burst blood vessel near my brain...and several other things that sounded just as scary. She told me to go to the doctor the next day if it didn't feel any better.
Well, with the dawn of Tuesday's sun, my face was even MORE numb. So I called my family doctor. They got me in to see him that day. They kept asking me if I had had any trauma to my head...I kept telling them no. I was sure they didn't believe me though because they asked that same question again and again. My doctor thought it could be anything really. So he did as all good doctors do...he ordered blood work. The blood work didn't show anything unusual, so he referred me to a neurologist.
I will never forget sitting in the neurologist's office, up on his exam table, while he poked my face with a very sharp toothpick type thing. It was a bit scary, because although I could feel it, it felt like a fat finger touching me instead of a sharp stick. The inside of my mouth was even worse. If any piece of food or gum strayed to the right side of my mouth, it just disappeared...swallowed into the black abyss. I could not feel it at all.
More tests were ordered...this time the tests were a little more extensive than the original blood work. I had to get more blood work done, an MRI (my first one ever!), and a lumbar puncture (the worst thing EVER!!!) After looking at the results from all of these tests, my neurologist said that it possibly could be MS and referred me to another neurologist who specialized in MS. So, it was off to yet another doctor who ordered yet another MRI.
3 months after I woke to a numb face, I found myself sitting in my new neurologist's office waiting for her to tell me what was wrong with me. She came in, sat down, and very matter-of-factly told me that I had Multiple Sclerosis. She talked to me for a while after that, but honestly, I wasn't listening. I just kept thinking of that woman I spoke of earlier. I was trying so hard not to burst into tears. I could-not-believe that this was happening to me. I was also kicking myself for being there alone. I should have had The Artist come with me. Why had I gone by myself?
When I got to my car, I called The Artist. It was very somber. I drove home, parked the car, and started walking up the front steps. The Artist had Mr. Smarty Pants meet me on the porch and give me a big hug. And thus began my journey with Multiple Sclerosis.