I want to take you back to June 5, 2000. The alarm sounded and I rolled over to turn it off. But my left arm didn't move so I silenced it with my right hand. Then I tried to climb out of bed but as soon as I put weight on my legs, the left one collapsed. I didn't have a lot of time to worry about it though because nature was calling. I crawled the short distance to the bathroom and hauled my body on the toilet. After I had finished there I was able to put some weight on the leg and I pulled myself up to the vanity and leaned against it. While brushing my teeth, I noticed that e left side of my face wasn't moving. It was as if someone had drawn an invisible line down the centre of my body. One side worked while the other didn't. Something was wrong but what?
The weird thing about this is that I wasn't terrified. I didn't call for an ambulance or find my way to the nearest hospital. No, I went to work. I did call and make a doctor's appointment as soon as they opened and the doctor sent me to the emergency room at St. Paul's Hospital.
Picture this. I am sitting in the emergency room at a large hospital in down town Vancouver and I have lost most of the use and feeling in my left side. Did I mention that my maternal grandmother died of brain tumour at this hospital in 1937? You can bet I thought about that possibility.
It took me over six hours before I was able to see a doctor. He poked and prodded me and asked me the same questions my doctor had. Then he left to get a neurology intern who came and did the same thing! All they would tell me was that it wasn't a brain tumour. Relief! But I still didn't know what the problem was.
In total, I was at the hospital for seven and a half hours before being allowed to leave. With no answers by the way. I was fed up by that time and just wanted to go home. I had the phone number of a neurologist to call and make an appointment so I guess events were promising.
On June 7, I went to the neurologist who did the same thing the other doctors had. The change this time was that he sent me for an MRI.
I was lucky. I managed to get in for an MRI within a week - usually it takes months to get one - and nine days after I woke to find my world turned upside down, I was called in the neurologist's office and given a diagnosis:
Actually, he said a suspicion of multiple sclerosis but it is more dramatic the way I said it.
The diagnosis was actually a relief in many ways. In 1986, at the age of nineteen, I went horse-back riding and the horse had a heart attack and fell on me, cracking my skull. Obviously, I recovered but I was left with strange things happening to my body. Like sudden numbness in my legs or arms that would go away. I was getting unexplained pain all over my body. Doctors never had an answer but now someone may have given me a reason why these things kept happening to me. As my late father said,
"The Devil you know is better than the one you don't".
I was told to take five weeks off work to rest and I thought great! I wanted some time off anyway. I will rest then go back to work and my life will continue as normal. Was I ever wrong!