Newby here, looking for some advice from any kind people who may feel able to help.
About 18 months ago I found I started to have problems with my legs. Over the months this has worsened. I find that, when I wake up in the morning, I’m absolutely fine but after a while (it can be anything from a couple of hours to about four hours later), I start to find my legs becoming “heavy” and not going exactly where I want them to. It’s hard to describe. By late afternoon, I need a stick to help to keep me on track and, by the evening, going up and down stairs becomes quite a challenge. The difference between the way I walk in the morning (normal) and the way I walk by the evening (wobbling around everywhere, needing a stick, struggling with stairs (totally unable to go down steps unless there’s something to hold on to), kicking things which I hadn’t been aware were anywhere near my feet, tripping over, catching feet on furniture, struggling to balance, etc) is extraordinary. I saw the GP about this, and was sent to see a neurologist.
The neurologist organised an MRI scan which revealed what was suspected to be an acoustic neuroma, and a lesion in my spinal cord (thoracic region). There was also some atrophy in both parietal lobes. I was booked for another MRI scan at higher resolution with contrast a few months later. Despite the fact that my symptoms were (and are) continuing to worsen, both the lesion which had been thought to be an acoustic neuroma and the lesion in my spinal cord had disappeared at the time of the second scan. The neurologist prescribed me a vitamin B tablet (I wasn’t told why, but was told it might help), told me I’d have a routine appointment come through in six months’ time (which never arrived), and to get in contact if I noticed any major changes. No diagnosis was made. Unfortunately, no full medical history was taken either. The neurologist gave me a neurological examination at my first appointment, confirmed that something seemed to be wrong with my legs, and arranged for the MRI.
Friends (including a couple of medics) have told me that my symptoms sound like those of MS - about which I’d previously been quite ignorant - and, upon reading forums (fora?) such as this, I’m starting to think they may well be on to something. As well as the mobility problems, I do have several other unexplained symptoms, which include the following:
Facial pain on the left hand side, which goes from just below my nose up to just below my left eye. This ranges from an annoying tingling to a stinging, burning sensation. It comes and goes, but when it comes it tends to hang around as a daily problem for several weeks or more. It’s been away for a few weeks, but has returned today with a vengeance. It first started a year or two ago.
Tremor. Initially intention tremor in my left arm, this later spread to my right arm. I then developed a postural tremor (both sides). The tremor has been absent for several weeks, but both postural and intention tremors have returned over the last few days, especially when I am anxious. This first started a year or so ago too.
Problems with spatial awareness. Not only being increasingly unaware of exactly where my feet are when I’m walking around (which is hard to describe; I hope somebody here might understand what I mean), but knowing exactly where things are when I go to reach them. Also knowing where the front left hand corner of my car is in relation to the hedge when driving! This seems to have crept up on me slowly over time.
Constipation. Although stools aren’t hard (sorry if this is too much information!), after the initial bowel evacuation, it takes an age for everything else to come through. I could quite easily sit on the loo all day! I also find that I often need to race to the loo for a pee and that sometimes nothing comes. Again, sorry for any surplus and unwanted information!
Laryngopharyngeal reflux and laryngospasm. This has recently been diagnosed, but with no obvious cause.
Itching. All over my body, but especially scalp and ears. It drives me mad! It also comes and goes. Medical investigation into my itching scalp a few years ago revealed no obvious cause. No medications have helped. I’ve had this for many years and have often wondered if there’s a neurological problem due to the fact that, generally, it happens in symmetry. If the front left of my scalp itches, say, then the front right tends to too.
Hearing loss. I find myself increasingly struggling to hear what people are saying to me, especially if others are talking. My party trick as a teenager was to be able to listen in and keep track of the conversations on several different tables. Nowadays I struggle to keep track of the conversation with those on the table at which I’m sitting, let alone trying to hear what’s happening elsewhere. I also get the occasional problem with tinnitus.
Eyesight. My brain stopped using my left eye properly in my late teens. The reason was never explained to me. I’m aware that it still works (I can see things if I move them in front or to the left of the eye), and it still works (but it more-or-less unuseable) if I close my right eye. I’m short-sighted in my right eye. My left eye is neither any good for close up or for distance. An optician’s examination recently revealed a pronounced anisocoria (which is not usually present in me), and that my pupils were slow to respond to light. He asked me if I had any neurological problems, and gave me a letter for the neurologist with his findings. The neurologist took a look at my eyes and said they seemed ok that day.
Dizziness. This comes on later in the day, too, as my legs start to misbehave.
Tightness in intercostal muscles on my right hand side. I’ve had this on and off (but mostly on) for a year or so now. This feels very much like the boa-constrictor effect I’ve seen mentioned in articles about the MS hug.
Thoracic back pain on right hand side. I developed this in my mid 20s (I’m 40 now). I tried everything to get rid of it (physiotherapists, chiropractors, rheumatology, pain clinic, pain killers (including the horrible Tramadol)), but nothing worked. Although a couple of theories were put forward (neuralgic pain, pain-spasm-pain mechanism), nobody ever managed to come up with a diagnosis. One morning in 2006, that area of my back tingled instead of causing me pain. It tingled for a couple of days, and then both the tingling and pain had gone. They stayed away for a couple of years, until the pain returned. It’s now a fairly constant part of my life.
Dislike of heat. Like those with confirmed MS seem to find, heat seems to make my symptoms worse, and makes me feel “rough”. My idea of hell would be a really hot bath!
I’m sorry to have waffled on at such great length, but I’d be really grateful for any advice. The neurologist (who doesn’t specialise in MS) didn’t seem terribly interested in me, didn’t take a full case history, and, with not having had the appointment come through, I feel abandoned without a diagnosis, without treatment, and without knowing what is happening to me, though I’m fairly certain from what I’ve read that it’s MS. However, I’m not medically qualified, and am aware of the inherent faults with self-diagnosis.
Any advice will be gratefully received. Thank you.