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To read the first part of Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis, click here.
Cir did, however, want a diagnosis. He needed to find out exactly what was wrong. He needed to put an end to the mystery. His general practitioner referred him to a neurologist who suggested he either get a spinal tap or an MRI done. Cir wasn't going for the spinal tap, so an MRI it was.
The doctor didn't say exactly what he was looking for. He took Cir's medical history and did some neurological tests. He never told Cir what he suspected until he had the actual results from the MRI.
Diagnosing multiple sclerosis, as I said earlier is more or less a process of elimination. Doctors rule out all the other possibilities and then MS is the only thing left.
When Cir went in for his appointment, the neurologist showed him the MRI. The white spots, or lesions, throughout his brain were the determining factor.
Cir was more relieved than anything. He wasn't surprised. He had more or less expected it. He called me after returning to work and told me he had MS. After work, he went to his kung fu class as usual.
I didn't know very much about multiple sclerosis at the time. Just the little Cir had shared with me after his appointment with the ophthalmologist years before. He had done a little reading and knew a little about multiple sclerosis from his research about the symptoms he'd been experiencing.
I'm not sure how typical Cir's reaction was when just being diagnosed with MS. But he continued to do what he had always done. He worked, he played, and if he had an exacerbation or relapse, as we later learned his episodes were; he dealt with them and kept going.
Diagnosing multiple sclerosis as the cause of their patients unwelcome symptoms, may be the last thing a doctor or neurologist wants to do. But living with MS is what you, as the person with MS, has to learn to do for the rest of your life. It's not impossible, but, it can be very difficult, especially in the beginning.
I don't have MS, but as a caregiver, watching Cir live day to day with multiple sclerosis, is not easy. Some spouses and partners just give up and leave.
Cir and I have lived through some very difficult days over the past several years. But for us, for me, leaving isn't an option. We grow closer with each difficulty. We are committed to be together no matter what happens.
Your diagnosis may at first seem very frightening. Or you may be angry and wonder why it happened to you. Most of these feelings come from not knowing what MS is. Learn as much as you can about multiple sclerosis.
Information is power. It is what can help you make informed decisions about your life and your care.
Hopefully you have loved ones in your life who will offer support. Resist the urge to keep everything to yourself. Share what you know with your family and friends. At the very least, you will find out who will stick around and be there when you need them most.
Also, don't give in to the urge to feel sorry for yourself. That's an easy one to fall into. Cir had his days like that. There were many days he wondered - why him? Only to come to the conclusion - "why not him?" He was just the same as everyone else. No better, no worse. So, why should he not have MS and not someone else?
No one deserves this disease. No one did anything wrong to get it. You had just as much chance of getting it as your family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker. It just so happened to be you or them. We each have to live the life we're dealt with.
As you learn to live with MS, one thing to remember is to let everyone around you know what you need. And don't feel guilty when you need to remind them. Most people, your loved ones included, tend to focus on themselves most of the time. This isn't a negative thing. It just is what it is. Remind them until they get it. They will because they love you.
When diagnosing multiple sclerosis, doctors may be reluctant to give you a diagnosis. I'm not sure why. Maybe they feel in the back of their minds if they don't, then it'll somehow go away. Just kidding, even though sometimes it might seem that way.
When you do get a diagnosis, it may take a while for you to get your head around exactly what that means. You'll need to realize and accept your new limitations and begin to change the way you do things. The sooner you can come to terms with your diagnosis, the sooner you can continue on with your life in spite of MS.
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Cir & Akrista
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