One hot summer’s day, years ago, I’d been out in the veggie garden doing some harvesting. Picture me, the flower-child – long floral skirt, tatty straw hat, basket filled with zucchinis, tomatoes, zucchinis, beans… more zucchinis… Anyway, I came inside and flopped down on the sofa, overheated and pooped, to give myself time to cool down and recover before flicking through 101 Zesty Ways with Zucchinis or something. That’s when I felt a strange new sensation along my left leg. It was kind of tingly, kind of prickly.
That’s a new one, I thought. Oh well, it could be worse. I was well enough to traipse around the garden on a 35 degree day, so who was going to quibble about the odd sensory abnormality?
Just as I was congratulating myself on the equanimity with which I could greet weird new MS symptoms, the tingling stopped. And started again – on my other leg. I whipped up my skirt. It was a locust.
But it can go the other way too. I once spent three nights in Bega Hospital, convinced I had a kidney infection. For a while I managed to convince the staff too; obviously it was back in the days when there was still enough health funding to indulge persuasive, hypochondriac patients. But they ended up sending me home on Tramil. That’s when I learned about MS neuralgia.
So that was my defence when, a few years later, I sat out a real kidney infection for two months, convinced it was just neuralgia. Ha! Not going to be fooled by that one again, I thought. I lost 7kg – and a good deal of confidence in self-diagnosis. These days, I just visit the GP.
One MSer friend told me she was mildly entertained by flashing lights in her peripheral vision until her ophthalmologist brought up the possibility of a detached retina.
Another mentioned sudden-onset forgetfulness in her mid-thirties. She’d heard of brain shrinkage in MS but that was never going to suit her career and lifestyle. Imagine her relief to hear it was early menopause, with symptoms remedied by a change in diet.
And the early stages of a cold or flu can make MS symptoms seem so much worse, raising an unwelcome question – is this a relapse?
It’s always a guessing game. But one thing’s for sure. It’s never boring, is it?