Sunday, March 23, 2014

If It's Not One Thing It's Another

I have MS. That is an established fact. I get dizzy. I see double. I fall down. I stumble over words. I forget things. It all comes and goes, but such is my normal. I have Good Days, and I have Bad Days. This is my reality. I've sort of gotten used to it. I don't like it, but it's my life.  At least it was until Thursday.

I went in for my routine eye exam for new glasses. My optometrist, who happens to be a close friend and who happens to be the person who first diagnosed my MS, got 'that look' on her face. You know the look your doctor gets right before the Poker Face kicks in? I know it well. I've mastered it. I'm a pediatrician. I've hidden 'that look.' I saw it immediately. I knew there was something wrong. I was right. There was.

I have bilateral papilledema, otherwise known as swelling of the optic nerve. This is NOT a good thing. As a doctor, the first thing I think when I see papilledema in a patient is 'tumor.' Now before you panic, I don't have a brain tumor...or at least I didn't on my last scans 3 months ago. Anyhow, number 2 on the differential is pseudotumor cerebri or some other cause of elevated intracranial pressure. Risks include blindness and cerebral herniation (when the brain stem comes out through the hole at the base of the skull). In medical school they teach us mnemonics to help us remember diseases and factoids. The mnemonic for pseudotumor cerebri is 'Fat, Fertile, Forty, Female.' Guess what? I'm all four. I'm fat. I'll be 40 in three weeks. I'm not menopausal, and I'm female, putting pseudotumor very high on the list of possibilities.

At this point, my optometrist friend called our town's neighborhood-friendly Neuro ophthalmologist to arrange an appointment for Friday morning. In the meantime, I got to go home and try not to stress over the possibility of going blind. Believe me when I tell you I did everything I could to stay busy and distracted until bedtime, at which time my already-constant prayers kicked into high gear. I truly believe our God is a God of miracles, and right now, I would really appreciate my own personal miracle.

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