THE M.S. IN THE ROOM
PART 1...LET’S START BACK TO 2013....
Having experienced concerns with my vision while
mountain biking late in 2013 - which included a near fatal fall on Table Mountain, I spent two months going from optometrists to ophthalmologists. Neither professional respected my claim that my right eye was losing focus when I got my blood pressure up. Other than mountain biking, the same thing was happening as I enjoyed a hot bath or chilling on the beach on a hot summer’s day.
Anyway, I managed to convince the ophthalmologist to refer me for an MRI. Upon receiving the results, I found his answer to me odd, but I do understand why he chose his words carefully. Sitting in his office with the results in front of him, he simply advised that the results of the MRI made it clear that there was nothing wrong with my eye. But because there was something else identified on the M.R.I, he strongly recommend I visit a neurologist to discuss the results in detail before I considered going anywhere else.
(For those who have had kids or have witnessed your wives go through a caesarean section for delivery, an epidural is administered with the help of the longest needle ever made by man - inserted into your spine. The only difference is that the epidural contains anaesthetic inserted into the spine, while for the lumbar puncture, the needle is inserted to retrieve and assess one’s spinal fluid for health issues...
I do not want to spend too much time on this process as it was quick and painless to be honest - the recovery however was a different story.
Once the fluid has been withdrawn and the needle is removed from the spine, nine out of ten people have no issues just lying down for another hour or two as the hole closes. Sadly... you guessed it...I am the one guy out of the ten to have a post procedural issue! Upon returning home, I opted to continue with my daily activities.
But then the MIGRAINES started.
I was in severe pain when standing , but felt fine as soon as I lay flat.
Jax reported this to the doc who advised her that I had a SPINAL HEADACHE.
What happens is that the hole made by the needle, when taken out of the spine, does not heal properly....and spinal fluid leaks out - thereby causing the migraines.
Oh...great...now what Doc?
Just hang tight for now and see if this hole closes on its own over the weekend Another 3 days of suffering awaited me....
Monday came with no improvement and I was rushed to hospital for another procedure known as : an Epidural blood patch. They take blood from your arm and INSERT (AGAIN...INSERT) with another long needle into your lumbar puncture hole, with the hope that the new blood clots well and then helps close the hole
Fine - bring it on I say. Just to let you know that this was the time that the OLD CHRISTIAN BARNARD HOSPITAL (located in central Cape Town) had unofficially closed its doors as it was relocating to a brand new and magnificent new setup on the Cape Town Foreshore. The reason I am telling you this, is because the only surgery available for my procedure was in fact in the LABOUR WARD.
Yip, I can now safely say that in the space of one week I had an epidural AND I had another procedure to fix the epidural while sitting in a gynecologists' obstetric chair - the good news is that I did not need to put my legs into the stirrups.
Now, this doctor was clearly not wanting to work in the labour ward as he did blunder the procedure and he took blood from my arm and before closing the wound on my arm properly, inserted the blood (effectively... thank goodness) into my spinal wound. While he celebrated the successful transfer of blood from one part of my body to the next, I had a fair amount of blood seeping out of my arm.... sorry - a bit gory, but it was quite a weird experience – worse than the actual lumbar puncture.
Let us fast forward a bit now....2 weeks later, on 23rd September 2014, the results were back, and the doc confirmed that I had MS....the six blotches were in fact lesions on my brain. I was reassured that we had managed to catch the disease quite early in the process and I was advised that the official diagnosis was Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) .... effectively stage one.
Time to get onto medication soonest.... daily injections of COPAXONE...
Thankfully, my medical aid approved the medication without any delay, and I could begin as soon as I received them.
Along came the very nerve-racking day of my first injection - I will never forget the image of the day (23rd October 2014) sitting with my own nurse assigned to me and with my MS WARRIOR and biggest supporter (my dear wife, Jackie) cheering me on.
Once I started these daily injections, I must be honest when I say that they fitted very well into my daily routine. The picture I included below indicates an incredibly significant achievement in my life - my greatest personal achievement. While I am proud of doing so much in my life, the number 784 is an emotional number for me.
It indicates a 784 Day period in my life whereby I DID NOT MISS ONE DAY OF INJECTIONS. I will mention a few memorable NEAR MISSES where I nearly broke this 784 day 'winning streak' - there are a few humorous and quite horrible memories which will help you understand why I am so proud of not missing one injection for 112 weeks or nearly 26 months.... Before I share a few of these stories, let me provide you with my simple instructions received from the nurse appointed to manage my medication
...READ MORE BELOW...