Wednesday February 13th 2013 . The day before my 25th birthday. ‘You have Multiple Sclerosis’.
The relapse which led to my diagnosis started mid November 2012, I used to start work at 6am, so by the time I got home at 2.30 a nap was needed, makes perfect sense doesn’t it?! Now, I should have stayed awake until bed time like everyone had advised me but my body would literally ‘shut down’. Not just after work, I had had this intense need to sleep for a few months now, and I had taken A LOT of naps. (I do love a good power nap tho) My over whelming need for a nap will all make sense later on. Around this time, I went on anti depressants (citalapram) I was down anyway working in a highly stressful job and then the below was happening, they seemed to be the only answer at the time.
I was on the treadmill at the gym and I went flying off of it. My legs just randomly stopped working out of nowhere. What did I put it down to? Lack of water. WATER. (I got a D in Science at school. I knew my stuff). Saying that, I was embarrassed to say the least, I just got up and hobbled to the changing rooms with my head down in shame. All I wanted to do was to lose some weight, no one said it would be this traumatic. From that day, I had a *slight limp*, it wasn’t even noticeable to others but I knew, (Like when your hair needs cutting, looks fine to everyone else but you know a trim is needed) I just put it down to a little sprain or something, and went about my life not giving it a second thought. Until I went back to the gym the following week, on the treadmill and I pee’d myself. Yes, I had pissed my pants. Out of nowhere. I had no control and my god, I clenched for my life, but I was powerless to stop it. The walk of shame had to be done again. Maybe this time I had TOO MUCH WATER. Needless to say, I was 24 and pissing myself sober. Apart from that and my left leg (remember that for later on, my left leg) being ‘sprained’ from randomly flying off the treadmill, I was fiiiiiiine, I didn’t need to go to the doctors, I had this, I just needed to find the right balance of water to drink.
Throughout December, my body was slowly but surely doing well, weird things. Come Xmas Eve, I was walking to work and my left foot kept slipping out of my shoe, it just wouldn’t stay in, it was raining slightly, maybe it was because there was water in my shoe? Doesn’t explain why I was dragging my leg tho, oh yes, that would be from when I fell off of the treadmill and it is just ‘flaring’ up. Honestly, I was running out of excuses for everything, OMG its a trapped nerve, yea, that’s right, it all makes sense now (in my defence, when I did eventually go to the doctors, she did say it was a trapped nerve ) . As a result, I was half hour late for work, walked in with a shoe in my hand and a very wet and grazed foot. I blamed it on a ‘trapped nerve’ in my leg, I mean what else could I say?! Someone stole my shoe and gave it back to me?! I didn’t even know what was going on. It was Xmas Eve, I just wanted to hobble out of work with one shoe on, go to my Mums and eat some pigs in blankets. Which I did. Told everyone I had a trapped nerve and it was left at that.
Christmas Day 2012. I got out of bed and fell to the floor and my vision was slightly blurry. I didn’t drink that much last night, surely? I literally woke up disabled, it’s like I had lost the instructions on how to walk, why weren’t my legs working?! My vision corrected itself and I was back to 20:20 within a few minutes but my legs, oh no. Right, let’s go down the stairs on my bum, ‘Hannah? It could be side effects from the anti depressants or it could be stress as does effect you you in many ways too?’ The truth is I didn’t know, I honestly didn’t know what to say. I suppose the whole side effect or stress thing could be to blame? Nooo, it’s too extreme to be that. What the hell was happening? It’s a trapped nerve. I will deal with it when the doctors open. I had convinced myself that was the problem, it was the only explanation. I sat down all day. Ignored the problem, you know the fact I couldn’t walk and I woke up not being see properly, as you’ve probably picked up, I do tend to ignore things until they smack me in the face.
I made a rash decision and resigned from my job with Immediate effect. My mind was everywhere, I emailed and quit. Done. Right, now I’m unemployed on top of everything else. It was fiiiiine.
On the 28th, I finally rang the doctor – I felt the time had now come to sort it out – hurrah, finally! It was getting worse, I could not walk, I was dragging my left leg, I had constant pins and needles in both feet, I had no balance or coordination, i was going dizzy and my vision was going blurry. I looked absolutely paralytic when I walked. How on earth I got through those days not only physically, but emotionally I will never know. Remember I wait for problems to smack me in the face? Well, it had now smacked me. I told my doctor everything that had happened in the past few days (i left out that I had no bladder control, I was sleeping more, and I fell off of the treadmill. At that time, all of that seemed absolutely irrelevant to the current problems. Of course, I now know it is completely relevant ). ‘Its seems to be a trapped nerve, but Im referring you to the neurologist to be sure’. I didn’t even question it, I had already convinced myself this was a trapped nerve. That’s all I needed to hear. Even with the blurred vision, dizzyness and pins and needles. A.TRAPPED.NERVE. Come that appointment in January. I will be better. Well, the great British weather had to ruin that plan. My appointment had to be on the day that the whole of Northampton came to a stand still because of the snow, gridlock, resulting in me being unable to make it to the hospital for my neurology appointment. Rescheduled for 2 weeks time. What.ever, il just sit until then, i mean I can’t do much else.
Now, between then and that appointment, i was now paralysed down my left hand side, including my hand. I had woken up blind in my left eye, the vision returned but I was left seeing double. Severely. However, if I closed either eye, I could see perfectly. My left eye would hurt in the corner if I looked to the side, So I just shuffled along with one eye closed. I was taken to the eye clinic in the hospital, 4 hours I was there for. 4 hours. I saw 3 different people, Numerous tests were done. Conclusion? I had optic neuritis, I was advised to get an eye patch and I was booked in for an MRI for my spine and brain. Wait, what? My brain?! Why are you looking in there for?! I have a trapped nerve and now optic neuritis, the scans were just a precaution, apparently. Not one person throughout all of this had told me what they were testing for and I just went along with everything, family and friends did too. Looking back I was definitely emotionally traumatised with everything, and why I just went along with it all because I assumed whatever all of this was I could be treated and I would be ‘fixed’.
So, I was unemployed, I could not walk, I was going dizzy with every head movement, I was near paralysed, didn’t have any bladder control and wearing an eye patch. None of which were made any easier by the constant snow and ice. I was fiiiine, it was just a trapped nerve. Sexy and I know it. Try plucking your eyebrows when you have double vision. I was falling apart! Was I slowly dying? MRI day came, I’d never had one before so it was an experience , the experience being having One Direction and every other pop’tastic song played through the headphones and being powerless to do anything about it for 30 mins. Other than the music, I had to remove my neck piercing which is mission impossible to get back in (that was promptly re pierced ). This trapped nerve had taken it a step too far now; take my eyes, my legs, my balance, paralyse me, but now I am having to sacrifice piercings and listen to 1D?! Half an hour later, it was done, I thought it would be like Holby City and I would get the results there and then. No. ‘The neurologist will be in contact once the results are back’. Fine. Whatever. I had THAT appointment I’d been waiting almost 2 months for next week anyways.
Neurologist day! Yes! I didn’t know what I was expecting from this appointment to be honest, I just wanted it confirmed that everything was going to be OK I suppose. I was absolutely mentally and physically drained from all of this, not for one moment did I think I was going to to receive a diagnosis of a disease in any shape, form or size. You don’t do you? That’s the kind of thing that happens to other people. Never you. ‘Hannah Clayson’ I walked, well shuffled into my appointment. Sat down all ready for the ‘electric scan’ on my legs to see which nerve was trapped. ‘I have the results back from your MRI’. I was shown a picture of my brain scan, other than it looking like there were fairy lights in there, it looked ‘normal’ to me, but then again, I got a D in Science. ‘It has came back with 1 scar and 5 active lesions on your brain, these are the white spots you are seeing’ I swear, in those split seconds of him saying that EVERYTHING went through my mind, OMG I have a brain tumour which is pressing against my eyes and that’s why I am seeing double, the trapped nerve is in my brain, where has the scar came from? WTF are lesions? What on earth has this got to do with my legs and the paralysis?! ‘But it’s a trapped nerve tho, right?’ He then said those four words…
Wednesday 13th February. The day before my 25th Birthday. ‘You have Multiple Sclerosis’. I will be the first to admit I didn’t know what on earth I was being diagnosed with, but with the neurologist next saying ‘There is currently no cure…’, I went into a state of shock and confusion, I stopped listening as soon as he said that and to this day I still don’t know how the rest of the conversation went, I just remember him telling me the nurse will be in contact and walking out with all these papers and booklets in my hand. My Grandfather, who had taken me to the hospital, was in the waiting room, I was only in there for about 5 mins, I showed him the paperwork ‘oooohh shit’ he uttered. ‘What?’ At this point I still didn’t know what it was, ‘It’s MS, Hannah ‘. THATS when I knew it was bad news. BAM – YOU HAVE SCARS ON YOUR BRAIN. BAM – THERES NO CURE – BAM – YOU HAVE MS’ (Seriously, iv never been hit with so much information in such a short space of time. Over whelmed much?’ – MS? I have MS?! If I was told that and not ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ 2 minutes ago, my reaction would have been completely different in that room. THAT I had heard of due to a family friend having it and she has had walking aids for as long as iv known her. That’s all I had ever associated MS with – how I was in for one hell of a Science lesson during the course of the next few months.
Well, at least I’d learnt what MS was short for that day, that was a start.