In 2004, I began to feel as if I have a pinched nerve between my spine and right shoulder blade. The feeling would come and go. Sometimes, I would also feel as if I had a terrible stiff neck, which would also come and go. I always figured these were due to stress or just sleeping in the wrong position.
These symptoms continued off and on through the 1st half of 2005. At the beginning of the summer (June) sometimes when I would look down, I would feel like an electrical current ran from my neck down to the bottom of my spine. Again, I chalked it up to being a pinched nerve.
These symptoms continued, and in October, I noticed that the bottoms of my feet had little feeling. Kind of like when you have a callous and can't feel much if you touch it. This continued for about 3-4 days and then I woke up one morning around October 28th and my fingers on my right hand were tingling. I thought I slept wrong and my hand was asleep and just slowly waking up. Between 7am and 11am the tingling turned to numbness in both hands and in both legs. Finally, I called my husband in tears and told him to get me to the doctor immediately.
The doctor listened to my story, did reflex tests and poked me with some pokey thing to determine where I did and didn't have feeling. When he didn't have a diagnosis, he told me to go home and wait through the weekend to see if it would go away. Also, at this visit, I mentioned to him that my brother has MS and asked if that could be what I have. His exact words were, "No. No. No. You don't have symptoms of MS."
The next morning, a Saturday, when I woke up, the numbess had climbed its way up to my neck. I couldn't feel myself inhale or exhale and I really freaked out. So, we took went to the ER. We told him everything, including about our visit to the doctor the day before. He did an EKG and when that came back normal he ruled out stroke and heart attack.
His diagnosis: I was having an anxiety attack from drinking too much caffeine. :confused: He gave me a dose of Valium through an IV and sent me home. I slept the rest of the day. Sunday, the symptoms still persisted. I talked to my brother with MS and he made me promise to tell my doctor to give me an MRI, and if he wouldn't, then he would fly me to his house and his own neurologist would do it.
On Monday, I returned to the 1st doctor. He was quite surprised the numbness was everywhere except from my neck up. He admitted that whatever was wrong with me was out of his league. My husband told him I needed to be tested for MS and that my family was demanding it. He finally gave in and referred me to a local Neurologist, but said it would take a month before the referral was cleared with my health care provider. I gave my husband "the look" and he quickly told the doctor a month was too long and that we didn't have time to waste. Reluctantly, the doctor made a few phone calls and we had an appointment with a Neurologist that afternoon.
The Neurologist heard my story, poked me a bit, tested reflexes, watched me walk, and try to hold things, and then sent me out for an Enhanced MRI of my brain and spine.
The next day, the results were in and the Neurologist told me I had 3 dime sized lesions in my brain and 1 much larger one at the top of my spine at the base of my neck. He said he was much more concerned with the one on my spine which was the one that was currently "active." I was then diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. He immediately scheduled me for a week of "steroids by IV" to be given once a day to reduce the swelling on the nerves in my spine.
It took about a full month for all the numbness and tingling to go away. I was very thankful and very lucky. Sometimes the damage is already done, and a person remains numb forever. My Neurologist acted quick and took my symptoms seriously.
I am still flabberghasted when I remember the ER doctor diagnosing me with "anxiety due to too much caffeine." About a year later I was in that same ER with my daughter and this same doctor came to see her. After he finished with her, I reminded him about the time I came in numb from my neck down and told him I was eventually diagnosed with MS. He said he was very sorry to hear that and then asked me what he had diagnosed me with. I told him, "Anxiety due to too much caffeine." I refrained from smiling when I said that, but took much pleasure from the embarrassment on his face. He quickly said, "I'm sorry we were wrong," and left room rather fast.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes, we know our bodies better than doctors, and if we feel we are not being diagnosed correctly, it pays to get a 2nd opinion, and sometimes even a 3rd opinion.