Scary Days #3 – 3/15/19

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At the end of part #2 I was driving home from a softball practice. The practice was getting frustrating as any ball hit or thrown to me was disappearing when in the air. As I drove home I was thinking about seeing that neurologist.

The next day I bit the bullet and called the neurologist that the ophthalmologist had suggested. The day of the appointment I went in and explained to the neurologist what had been happening to me. He did a preliminary exam in his office. He looked at my eyes and asked a bunch of questions. The neurologist then ordered some tests for later in the week for me. The neurologist was from Mexico and he had this thick accent which made it hard to understand him.

The first test I had was what I call the strobe light test. I put on a skull cap connected to wires and the neurologist put a strobe light about 6 inches from my face. Then he turned it on. It was flashing and bright to say the least. The test measured how my optic nerves reacted to light.

The second test was an electroencephalography (EEG) which records brain waves. Again, I had the skull cap on with wires attached to it. It’s used to detect the level of electrical activity in the brain. Your brain cells communicate by electrical impulses and an EEG measures and records these electrical impulses to detect anything abnormal.

An MRI was done a few days later. The MRI proved nothing conclusive. I was told all three tests were not conclusive. We didn’t know if I had MS or not. The last test for me was a spinal which I had never done. It was now end of June 1991 and I scheduled a hospital visit for the following Wednesday.

I had never been in a hospital as a patient before. When I got to the hospital I checked in and was told to wait. A nurse called my name and we went to a hospital room. Once in there I stripped to my underwear and was given a gown to put on.

A spinal tap test is usually performed in the following manner:

– The patient must lay on his or her side, with the knees pulled up toward the chest and the chin tucked downward. Sometimes the test is done with the person sitting up, but bent over.
– After the back is cleaned, the health care provider will inject a local numbing medicine (anesthetic) into the lower spine.
– A spinal needle is inserted, usually into the lower back area. Once the needle is properly positioned, spinal fluid pressure is measured, and fluid is collected.
– The needle is removed, the area is cleaned, and a bandage is placed over the needle site. After the procedure they told me I should stay in the hospital for 4 hours. I was told if you sit or stand up too soon you can get severe headaches.

My neurologist had trouble finding my spinal fluid. It seemed like it was his first time ever doing it. The doctor tried twice to find the fluid and couldn’t. He was going to send me to get an x-ray to find my fluid. I told him to try one more time. On the third try he found the spinal fluid and was able to extract what he needed.

Then I had to lay in the hospital bed for four hours. The neurologist gave me some pain killers and sent me home where I rested for the remainder of the day! A spinal tap is normally 99.9% correct if a person has MS or not. Guess what? I passed the spinal tap test so it looked like I didn’t have multiple sclerosis! I was really getting confused by this time.