Fast-forward to October 2012. During our big 30th Anniversary Halloween party, I had blurred vision in both eyes, which intensified when my body temperature increased, and a severe case of thrush. Thrush is basically a yeast infection in your mouth that babies are prone to getting. But somehow I had it. Needless to say – I probably drank the Chicago Cultural Center out of every bottle of water that night.
A week later, all of a sudden, I experienced new symptoms. My balance was off – and I mean off. My co-workers and I returned from an event and I practically fell out of the cab. Somehow, no one noticed. I had trouble walking and couldn’t even grip a pen properly. My handwriting suddenly looked as if I were a 4-year-old printing with her non-dominant hand.
Not being able to walk and having zero strength in my hands was scary. So I called my ophthalmologist and told him that I had already seen my general physician and scheduled an appointment with a neurologist in the city, but I wanted to know if I could get a repeat brain MRI. He thought that was a good idea and we scheduled it.
I anxiously awaited the results, which typically took a few days to a week to process. But my suburban doctor called the very next day and told me he already called my neurologist in the city, who I was due to see the following week. He said, “We both agree you need to go to the ER right away.”
I wasn’t even told what the MRI showed, so I went to the ER immediately for what would be my three-day hospital stay. I had several MRIs, CTs, countless blood tests and a spinal tap. I’d like to think the tap was practice for a future epidural if I ever have children, but thinking that didn’t make me feel any better. It’s an odd procedure that took about about 30 minutes, and I hoped I’d never have to endure it again. (Side note: I did have another spinal tap weeks later. The second one was painful – some of the worst pain I’ve experienced both during and weeks after a procedure. But I was okay and the results were fine.)
While my lab work showed was relatively healthy, there were a few abnormal readings throughout my tests: I had lesions on the outer covering of my brain, down my spine and in my lungs; and my white blood cell count was elevated. I was told the possible diagnosis was sarcoidosis, multiple sclerosis or lymphoma. This wasn’t news to me, as my suburban ophthalmologist told me that I could be experiencing onset symptoms of any of those diseases. But what was the most frustrating to me was that we couldn’t get a concrete diagnosis. We had to wait for a positive biopsy or some other defining red flags. Since there was nothing more we could do, I was discharged and sent home.
One thing I forgot to mention about that emergency hospital stay was that it caused me to miss a very special concert. My family and I are huge fans of The Monkees (yes, the ’60s group). The first Monkees concert I went to was in 1996 featuring Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones – because Mike Nesmith didn’t tour back then. In 2012, after Davy Jones sadly passed away, Mike Nesmith came out of ‘retirement’ and the band planned another tour. My amazing sister got us front row seats, but I missed the show because I was hospitalized. BUMMER!
Keep reading after the photos…