Here's Something Kind of Scary

So, the past week and a half, my family has been dealing with something a little frightening. About nine days ago, I noticed that both my hands had pins and needles. I thought it would go away. Then, my chest and back felt prickly. I thought it was my detergent, but I only wash our clothes in baking soda and white vinegar. I thought it was a new medication, but I stopped that and there was no improvement. I thought it was the way I was sitting, but I changed my postures and nothing improved. Within a week, my whole sternum down to my solar plexus was totally numb in a five inch-wide band. My hands feel like the skin is on too tight. They are burning. They are numb. I got scared.

My PCP left her practice a couple of years ago when she had her second child, and because I was seeing doctors every other day between fertility treatments and pregnancy, I never got a new one. So this past Friday, I called to see if on an off chance the doctor who took over the practice could take me on as a new patient. Oh, and could the doctor see me immediately?

Dr. Ellis took me in that afternoon, and my symptoms stumped her. She spent a long time with me though, dragging out her neurology books, trying new things, looking ideas up on her computer, etc. One thing she did not do is blow me off by telling me it was all in my head. "It's stressful being a new mom, and I'm sure you're sleep deprived. Why don't you try and relax. Here is a pamphlet on Postpartum Depression. See you in 12 months."

Dr. Ellis took a bunch of blood and checked everything from potassium, to Lyme, to arsenic, to inflammation. She told me if things got any worse, over the weekend to go directly to the ER for a neuro consult and MRI. And she told me she would call on Monday.

By Sunday, I felt the worse. So, rather than wait, Jamie and Hazel and I went over to the ER, but the doc I met with there gave me the blow off. "This isn't an emergent situation. You should see a neurologist." No shit. Page him. I can't feel my hands.

Monday morning I talked to Dr. Ellis. Not her secretary, and not her nurse. I talked to her. Several times. She called around to half a dozen neurologists and found one who specializes in paresthesia and peripheral neuropathy. She talked on the phone with him, explained my case and got consultation. He had her set me up with a brain MRI which I am having tomorrow. This will hopefully rule out Multiple Sclerosis, which is the primary concern at this time. He was also able to fit me in this afternoon for a consult because of a cancellation.

All my labs were normal, except for elevated sed which measures inflammatory process and elevated white blood cell count. All of my reflexes and everything are normal, except for my Babinski reflex. Because of this, my neurologist is sending me for an additional cervical spine MRI after my brain scan (unfortunately, this is going to involve a lumbar puncture...shit). He has given me an initial diagnosis of Myelitis and Paresthesia.

My first MRI, the brain scan, is tomorrow afternoon. I'm pretty nervous, but I feel so good knowing that Dr. Ellis and Dr. Kellhier are on my team. I am so thrilled that they are taking this as seriously as I am and treating me with respect. New numbers came out today that say only 2% of new medical school graduates plan on going into Internal Medicine because the pay is too low and insurance paperwork is too high. While as a social worker, I can certainly sympathize with those complaints, I find the numbers cynical and depressing. If Gail Ellis had chosen to go into another speciality, her patients would surely not be getting the quality care that she has provided me. I know my doctors are determined to figure out whats going on, and I am trusting them with my life and the life of my family. Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.


Jaymee said...

I wish I could be there to hold your hand. It sounds like you have an excellent team. You will be in my thoughts, please let me know as soon as you know something. All our love is coming your way.

Anonymous said...

Oh my word, how frightening.
I'm so glad you've got such a good team behind you - sending healthy thoughts and wishes your way!!!


Eileen said...

That's really scary, but I'm glad that you're working with a strong and respectful medical team. Hopefully, they'll be able to get to the bottom of things quickly!