The holidays are a stressful time for everyone so I wasn’t too surprised when my MS symptoms started to flare up a little bit. My balance which isn’t that great to start with had become so bad that I had started using my cane on occasion if I knew I was traveling a long distance or going somewhere that might present some tricky situations. I figured 2 weeks off for winter break was all that I would need to recharge and get back to “normal”.
Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday behind the 4th of July, the only way to beat football and turkey is BBQ and baseball! This Thanksgiving was extra special as my wife and I were finally going to tell the rest of our family that we’re expecting our second child this spring. The stress of expecting the new baby was the beginning of my new symptoms.
I became extra spastic in my legs and now in my right arm too. Previously my MS has only affected my left side so a twitchy right shoulder got me worried; numb toes really got me worried! Along with newly tingly toes and extra wobbly balance my vision started to get shaky. Vision has never been an issue but I’m aware that many people with MS struggle with vision problems so this was just another stack of great news to go along with everything else.
Finally we sprung the news that we had another baby on the way and I was very relieved to finally be able to share the news with my family and friends. Thanksgiving was over and break was only a few short weeks away, I could make it. The Sunday after Thanksgiving I had my Tysabri infusion and actually didn’t mind spending 3 hours sitting in a chair because it meant that I would get a chance to unwind and relax.
Winter break finally arrived and just like every other teacher and student I was excited to finally get off of the grind for a little while and spend some time with my family. The first night of break we all went to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village and had some fun, I was in such rough shape that my in laws went and got a wheelchair for me. I didn’t use the chair instead I pushed my son in his stroller all night and limped along through the 1860’s. Break was off to a not so spectacular start.
Christmas was fun I got to spend time with all of my out of town family and see all of my nieces and nephew. I ate too much food and relaxed as much as possible but the new symptoms were still present I was beginning to think that I might be in the middle of an exacerbation. Good thing my 6 month neuro checkup was the Tuesday after New Year’s.
Once I started explaining all of my new symptoms she asked how long had I been having them for, I explained that it had been going on since a little bit before Thanksgiving. She looked over the list and went to get the head neurologist who is my regular doctor anyway so I thought nothing of it until he walked in and started asking me the same questions I had just answered. “Do I think it’s PML, no but since you are JC positive let’s get some pictures to make sure and see if we can see any new activity.”
Christmas, family and a new baby are all stressful to a degree, a potentially fatal brain infection is in a class of it’s own. As I numbly drove back to work from my appointment I couldn’t stop thinking those three scary letters PML. When I got to work I got online and completely ruined my day by looking up the symptoms that went along with PML. The most prominent symptoms are clumsiness, progressive weakness, and sometimes personality changes according to Wikapedia. Check, check and check, my personality was quickly changing! I never let MS get me down but PML had just punched me in the face and I was sure I was going to die or have to endure some crazy treatment to hopefully save me.
My wife as always was my rock, “it’s going to be fine, get your MRI and we will go from there.” I have never looked forward to an MRI before but I couldn’t wait to lie in that stupid tube and listen to it honk, beep and thump while it scanned my brain and spine. After the scan was complete I got dressed and walked out the doors into the freezing cold sure that the results would confirm that there was an infection in my brain.
When I spoke to my Doctor he explained that he saw no signs of PML and that there were no new active lesions either. He thinks that the extreme cold weather and the stress of the new baby have teamed up to get my MS irritated. “We will monitor it closely and get steroids going if needed”. So the good news is my brain isn’t being eaten by PML just the usual lesions.
Be a warrior today,
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