Just One Breath

An American girl in Scotland, figuring things out one step at a time

Where I’ve been…


When I began to write this I wanted to be quick and to the point just to explain my absence but as I wrote more I realized it would not be fair to cut out what I have gone through and the things that I have learned from it. With that in mind I wanted to make this a 2 parter to make sure that things are explained well. The past few months have been the most trying and scary months of my life yet, somehow, they have been the most reaffirming. I have not been absent from here by choice… I have been unwell.

In March I went home for the first time in a year with Jamie. There was a lot going on and too many people to see and for some reason this is the time my body chose to give up, it went numb… literally. I figured I had pinched a nerve but it had to be a big pinch to cause all of what was going on. Over a few days my right foot went, then my left, the tops of my legs were hypersensitive, and my hands were a combination of numb and hypersensitive. My torso had something special planned for me… the corset treatment. I felt like my lungs were being crushed and I could barely handle clothing. Tank tops/vests had to be skin tight under my clothes so that I could be dressed. I was completely uncomfortable 24 hours a day but through all of this I just carried on.

When we got back to Glasgow I didn’t want to miss work or the gym. I finally had some stability and structure that I had been craving for the first year of being in Scotland. There was a day that really scared me, the day my face and tongue went numb. I looked at myself and I didn’t look different but I was really worried. I contemplated going to the Doctor over and over, Jamie wanted me to go also but I didn’t want to seem crazy. I could barely get my head wrapped around what was going on let alone explain it out loud to people. Well, over 3 weeks into this ordeal my trainer at the gym, Chirene, asked how I was and if there was anything new she should know… I told her jokingly that I couldn’t feel my hands. She asked more and I began to tell her, then the realization of what I was explaining started to hit us both. She immediately had me get my things and proceeded to walk me to the hospital.

One thing lead to another and after 4 days, one ER visit, one Doctor visit and 15 vials of blood taken I was admitted to the hospital. What?! That is how I felt. I thought I was going with a Doctor’s letter to get more tests, not to be admitted. I had never been in the hospital ever and I was terrified. I didn’t know what they were looking for but apparently being able to make me cry by touching my legs or torso with a tissue was worrying to the Doctor’s.

I am not going to go over the 4 day hospital stay but I do want to say it was not bad but it could have been better. Maybe a word of advice for future patients from this mouthy American… speak up when you want answers. Don’t be content to sit from 9 am to 3 pm without a word from someone. The nurses were lovely and the Doctors overworked but when I cried and couldn’t take not knowing what was going on and why I was still there, I got answers. So speak up, ask questions and don’t be afraid. I was not ignored when I was upset but the time scale was not always in the Doctor’s hands until I pushed them to push.

During my hospital stay I had a battery of tests done including an MRI. The MRI was what was holding up the show. I had to wait for it for 3 days. Skip to day four, I was hoping this would be the last day. The Doctor came at around 9:30 ( a different Doctor had been in charge of my ward everyday) and she began to ask about my symptoms and I almost lost it. Day one all over again… NO WAY! I politely cut her off and asked if there had been any results sent from my MRI. She said “Oh, you have had it?” and I replied yes and then off she went to check for the results while I fumed. She came back and sat on my bed and began to explain the results. It had been found that I have “widespread demyelination in the corpus callosum and cervical spine.” That sounded bad. She explained that the causes were varied. Over the four days in the hospital I had heard several hypothesis about what could be causing my symptoms including a viral attack and Guillain–Barré syndrome so hearing them was nothing new but then she threw out the biggie… Multiple Sclerosis. “No! Not me. No way do I have MS.”

I was released from the hospital that evening on my word that I would take the prescribed steroids exactly as I was told and I was to await hearing about a neurologist appointment. I was so happy to be home. I was going to just relax and sleep in my husbands arms that evening and try to forget the fear I had as a result of the bad news I received. The next day I hit the ground running. I looked up the possibilities that I had been given and if, and I stress if, I had MS it was not going to be the “bad” MS, I found a type called Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS) and I figured that was the worst case scenario. This is the most common kind to get and many people have it and do not know. They may have had things happen that they thought were injuries but when, like me, they are presented with something serious they look back and think that could have been an episode. If it was RRMS I was ready for it. I was so ready to be done with this nightmare and move on. x h




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