My first big relapse was in 2004 with a numb face, a headache that wouldn’t shift, optic neuritis and vertigo.
It’s strange to think of it now, but the medical profession couldn’t explain the cause at the time. Probably because I presented the symptoms individually, rather than all in one go.
I then experienced a few more symptoms in the following few years that tied in with the diagnosis of my MS in 2008. This was when I had the mother of all relapses that left me with the doublevision I have today.
Because of the missed diagnosis, I’ve often wondered when the start of my MS really was. Until recently I believed it was 2004.
Now I’m not so sure I can put a date on it.
In the late eighties, for instance, I had some very dodgy visual symptoms that tie in with optic neuritis and Uhthoff’s phenomena as they followed midsummer cross country runs.
Then I remember there’s a bit of a gap between 1987 and 2004. Seventeen years with no symptoms at all…
…but last night I found some evidence to the contrary.
If you ask my wife, she’ll verify that I’m a bit of a hoarder (I prefer the term self-archivist). I was sorting through some old papers in my loft last night. Among them were some old pay slips, timesheets and sickness forms from when I lived in London. It was in the sickness forms that I discovered a referral to my then occupational health department in 1998.
The reason? Doublevision!
This, of course, is the very symptom that returned ten years later to make me seek serious medical advice.
Not just doublevision though, eye pain too, which sounds like a dash of optic neuritis thrown in to me.
I only have vague memories of all this, as this happened fifteen years ago. I seem to remember a workplace assessment giving the reason as eye strain, which explains why I didn’t pursue the 2004 wierdness when that’s how it was explained to me again.
It does lend some creedence to the idea that my MS is a lot older than I, or my doctors realise. It effectively expands the timeline by six years.
My mission, now, is to find further evidence. To see if I can fill in the gaps between 1987 and 1998. I kept a diary on and off in the late eighties and early nineties, and I have a box of old letters, so I’ll be interested to see if that brings anything to light.
I have a few unexplained medical issues that are still a bit vague in my memory from that time, so I suspect it might provide a few enlightnening memories.
It won’t change anything, of course. It won’t change my current situation and it won’t inform my treatment. One thing it will do though, is satisfy my curiosity.
It will have contributed largely to the person I am today.