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This is part #1 of a four part series describing how I found out I had Multiple Sclerosis. I think when someone gets diagnosed with a chronic illness they search their memories for hints and clues that would explain their diagnosis. Here are some of mine.
I lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota from 1988 until 1992. I started running everyday in 1985 as part of my regular exercise. In the spring of 1989 while living in Edina I started jogging the same route every day. It was about 2 miles long on city streets and sidewalks, almost no traffic, not too hilly and very safe. It was just a perfect place to run.
One day on my run without any warning my right eye became blurry (cloudy). I could still see out of it but it was like my eye was covered with a piece of clear plastic. This had never happened before! It seemed weird at the time but I had no explanation for it. Then to my surprise each day after that for a week my right eye became cloudy when I ran.
What made it even stranger was that my right eye got cloudy at the same point in my run. It was about one quarter of a mile from my apartment. I figured something was wrong but my eye always cleared up so I didn’t worry about it too much. To make it even stranger yet, everyday the blurriness would go away 20 minutes after I got back to my apartment and cooled down.
It wasn’t blurry any other time of the day except when I ran so I didn’t get too excited about it. I kept running daily and the cloudiness continued. I finally went to a Benson Optical to get my eyes checked in January of 1991. I’d put up with that cloudy eye while running for almost two years. It was time to figure out what was doing it!
In the end that cloudy eye while running was the first noticeable symptom that would change my life forever. Now that I know what I know about MS the reason my eye got cloudy was because I was heating my body up by running. That heat was affecting the optic nerve in my right eye.
I was playing a lot of golf in 1989-1991. I’ll never forget one night in 1990 when I was playing golf by myself. It was about 7pm. As I walked the golf course I noticed my feet didn’t seem like they were connected to my legs.
It’s hard to explain the sensation I was having but it sure didn’t feel right. I would take a step and then my foot would move forward and a second later my leg would follow. It’s hard to describe but I knew something wasn’t right! I finally decided that night that the ground was uneven on that particular part of the course. lol
In my heart I knew the ground wasn’t uneven. Ground is always uneven but our sense of balance keeps us upright and walking straight. We adjust to whatever we’re walking on. By the end of my round I knew something might be seriously wrong but I didn’t know what. About this time I also started having some tingling in my right arm and leg.
I’d had tingling on and off in various body parts in the past but it usually went away pretty quickly and I just forgot about it. Now I was having blurry vision when I jogged, tingling in my right arm and leg and when I walked the golf course it felt like my feet and legs weren’t connected. I was either a hypochondriac or something was really wrong with my body!
I think it’s natural for a person to try to come up with some kind of reason when something like that is happening to their body. When this type of thing happens your mind begins to wonder a lot. At least mine did! You can come up with some really crazy reasons as to why something is happening.
Here’s an example of one of my crazy reasons. In 1985 I was driving a lot for my job as a health club manager. I was keeping track of three clubs in three different cities at the time. I remember one day while I was driving to one of the clubs my right hand suddenly went numb and was tingling. I was very busy with work so I thought maybe I was just overtired. I thought about that one for awhile but I wasn’t that tired. I didn’t like that reason so I came up with the reason in the next paragraph.
At the time my car was a 4-speed with a stick shift. I often rested my right hand on the stick shift while driving. I thought that maybe the tingling was from leaving my hand on the stick shift and the continual vibration of my car was causing the problem! How idiotic but I was reaching for possible answers. It was probably an early exacerbation of my MS.
My body had never let me down in 32 years of life but it sure was doing some weird stuff now. I’d been playing sports my whole life and I’d taken some good hits but nothing like this had ever happened to me!