I am a 33 year-old woman from Sydney, Australia. At around the time I turned 31, I developed symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, a numb left arm, blurred vision and what they call "urge incontinence" (having to go to the bathroom as soon as the urge strikes and being unable to hang on). During this time, I would wake up in the mornings having pins and needles in both arms up to around the elbows. I was alarmed by these symptoms as I thought they might be associated with multiple sclerosis. However, I went to the neurologist and had an MRI of my head and neck done and was told that my brain was perfectly normal. The neurologist thought that the symptoms were caused by a couple of discs in my neck impinging onto my spinal cord (I think he referred to this as "degenerative spinal disease" but can't remember). He said that this might get worse with age, in which case spinal surgery might be required, but, in the meantime, there was nothing I could do about it. I then went to a musculo-skeletal specialist who told me that he disagreed with the neurologist's diagnosis, and said that quite a number of people have discs impinging on the spinal cord to the degree that mine did, without experiencing any of the symptoms I described.
Since I couldn't get a clear answer, at this point, I gave up on trying to get a diagnosis. I was also less motivated to get an answer because, by this time, my numb arm and blurred vision had subsided. Nonetheless, I continued to have problems with urge incontinence and although the fatigue had improved, I continued to have far less energy and resilience than I used to have. I was also troubled by a continually runny nose and weight gain (it wasn't exactly clear whether the weight gain was caused by months of inactivity due to the fatigue, when I used to be quite an active person, but I felt like my metabolism had somehow slowed down and I have never been able to get back to my former weight). Another symptom was that whenever I drank even very small amounts of any form of alcohol this would make the runny nose even worse and I would feel generally quite ill.
Two years went passed and then the numb arm and blurred vision came back for a few weeks. I then went to see a second neurologist and got more MRI scans. Again, my brain was normal. Also, the neurologist thinks that the disc obtrustions in my neck are not enough to cause the symptoms. He, therefore, told me that he thinks I have "non-specific neurological symptoms" which they can't explain but that people who have these tend not to have any permanent impairments and they might either continue to recur or disappear over time.
My problem is that I still continue to feel unwell as I am generally far more fatigued than I used to be, my nose runs constantly, I can't lose weight, I can't drink any alcohol and, to add to my previous symptoms, I have completely lost my libido. I went on naturpathic herbs and a strict diet of no wheat, no dairy and no soy for while. When I did this the runny nose cleared up but then, after I gave up on this diet and herbs, it came back again. I'm not sure if the runny nose is somehow related to having become allergic to certain things and am considering getting some allergy tests.
The picture is complicated by the fact that I have had problems with depression/anxiety since my early 20s. I have been on and off anti-depressants since that time but find I function much better and am OK when I am on them. Therefore, I am now taking the anti-depressant "lexapro". The doctors tell me that this wouldn't account for any of the symptoms I have as they are not known side-effects of the medication. I should add that I know that depression can cause fatigue and loss of libido but, having had problems with depression for such a long time, I can tell you that I don't think that it's depression this time. It feels very different when it's caused by depression.
Also, my boyfriend for the past 3 years, who I now live with, has had long-standing problems with chronic fatigue syndrome. I developed my symptoms at around the same time our relationship started. Everyone says that chronic fatigue syndrome is not transmissable between people but I am wondering if there's some connection with the symptoms I developed?
I would be very grateful for any suggestions or advice any one has about my symptoms as I am really tired of feeling unwell and not knowing what I can do about it.
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