Ever since I was diagnosed over four years ago, my mum’s reaction to almost every symptom I’ve had has been: “Oooh, I get that too!”, to the point it’s been infuriating, and I have said: “For goodness’ sake, Mum! You DON’T have MS! Nobody gets to 70+ without noticing they have MS!”
Of course, none of these things have been objectively verified or investigated, and she has a history of phantom illnesses going back 20 years or more. It’s worse since she got the Internet and Google, as one minute it’s heart trouble, next minute it’s her gall bladder, then it’s ehler’s-danloss syndrome, and so on, and so on - all self-diagnosed, and none of it backed up by any medical evidence whatsoever, as all she does is moan, and never seek formal investigation of any of it.
So I’ve dismissed it all as a load of rubbish, frankly. I remember Dad saying, years ago: “She’ll outlive us all!”, and so far, he’s been right - he’s been gone six years; I’ve got sick, and so has my sister (she remains undiagnosed).
Except that Mum went to the optician’s this week, and he said there was something wrong. While he was going through testing different lenses, for her prescription, he asked: “How’s that?”, as usual, and she said: “Oh no, I can see double with that!”
So he seemed a bit surprised, and tweaked a few things, and said: “How is that now?”. She said: “No, I can still see double!”
So he did a few more tests, and concluded her left eye is not tracking properly, and there’s a problem with the eye muscle (he happens to be a GP as well).
He was a bit concerned, and wanted to see her again in four months. She said: “Well, it’s not new; we have spoken about it before!”, and he went back through the notes, and found there was indeed a note of it some time ago, and it doesn’t seem to be any worse, so he said: “OK, six months, then”.
She says she doesn’t notice it in everyday life, except very occasionally, which she put down to having had a drink. She said that years ago, in her thirties, when we used to have a glass or two of wine or cider with Sunday dinner, she used to catch sight of the TV out of the corner of her eye, and see that it was double. She said to Dad: “The wine must have gone to my head: I’m seeing double!”
He exclaimed: “What? It doesn’t take much with you; you’ve only had half a glass!” - which was true.
So now she’s wondering if the drink was just coincidence, and she’s actually had a problem for quite some time.
And I am also wondering if I’ve been unfair saying: “Don’t be so silly!” when she has kept on as if she had MS ever since my diagnosis.
I’m wondering what the prevalence is of weak eye muscles in people who don’t have a CNS disorder, and whether she’s been onto something all along.
We know without a doubt there was MS on my father’s side of the family - albeit quite distantly, so I’ve always assumed the “risky genes” must have come from his side, which made me all the more dismissive of the: “Me too!” refrain, every time I mentioned any symptoms, as I was sure that if there was a familial tendency, it wasn’t on Mum’s side! I also thought I was pretty late (mid-40s) to finally cotton on to anything being wrong, so the chances of Mum getting to her 70s with MS, without anything serious happening, and in fact, without even noticing, were pretty slim! I consider I’m doing pretty well, but don’t realistically think I’d have made it another 30 years without noticing I wasn’t well. And unlike Mum, I never took any notice of anything - I was NOT preoccupied with my health. But even I got diagnosed eventually. So is it really likely that anyone with health anxiety as strong as my mum’s would get to her 70s without discovering she really did have something serious? She can’t have had anything that bad over the years, as she would have ended up at the doctor’s - same as I did.
So just wondering, really, if it’s just a bit of a freaky coincidence. Of course, I knew what she on about straight away - not because I’ve had it personally, but reading accounts here. So how likely is it that she would have it from an unrelated, and indeed benign cause?
This is the first time I know she’s not imagining one of her many complaints, as someone has actually been able to find something.