My first response when I woke up from the valium sleep that the emergency Doctor gave me and the skull busting headache was still there, was shock and disbelieve. Now what do I do? I went in to see my family Doctor and she phoned a neurologist. The neurologist got me right in to his office. As soon as he was finished his assessment he told me my headache was a “cervicogenic headache” caused by trauma. He proposed sub-occipital injections with a freezing and a steroid to confirm and possibly help. I was scheduled to meet him in outpatients at the hospital in two days. I was told to stop physiotherapy and exercise. That is fine to stop those, but how do I do laundry, cook for my kids, clean the house and the rest of the list that goes along with being a Mom. The kids were 6 and 8 years old at this time, very energetic and used to me being energetic with them.
The narcotics just barely took the edge off of the pain, and I felt weird. It was hard to focus, so I did not want to take more of them. Work through the pain, that is the only answer. Just take a breath and do it.
The injections gave me 3 days without the headache. It felt great, then when the headache came back, I was rolling on the floor, whretching to vomit. When ever the pain would suddenly increase, it would put me down. Once I was able to get used to it a bit, I would make myself get up and carry on with the day. I did not have a method at this time that I was aware of, my voice inside my head saying-“the kids need you to be normal, they need activity, they need food, they want to play”. What ever the immediate need was at the time, I would just focus on that and do it.
Six weeks after the constant headache started I had fallen asleep with my son in his loft bed. I woke at midnight and was having trouble moving my legs. As I was trying to get down off of the bed, I fell because my legs just did not have much strength. With both kids sleeping and home by myself I could not go to emergency, so I just made my way to my bed.
The next day, my feet were floppy, and I was still having significant trouble with my walking. Thinking that it was possibly a medication that I just started for my headache my family Doctor told me to stop the medication. There was no improvement over the next two days, so I went in to see my Doctor. She put in a call to the neurologist on call. It was my daughter’s birthday, so I had company coming over. A friend picked her cake up for me, and came over to help. “Carry on as usual!!”
Right before all of the company came over, my Doctor called me to say that the neurologist felt it was urgent that he see me. I was to go emergency, he had arranged a bed for me and would order an MRI. I finished the birthday party, arranged for places for the kids to go and off to emergency I went.
The next day, I couldn’t hold my weight without using a walker. Good thing I was in the hospital. The next few days were a roller coaster ride so to speak, with multiple tests to figure out the reason for the profound legs weakness. After three days, one neurologist told me his impression was that I may have MS (multiple sclerosis). That day, high dose IV pulse steroid therapy was started. and I felt like a truck hit me. Not only do I have to live with this constant headache, but MS as well. My positive thinking was walking out the door, and I could not call it back.
When my kids came to visit me, my son wanted me out of the hospital bed, so I could look more “normal”. He got a wheelchair, proceeded to help me up, and arrange my legs in the foot supports. “Move your feet Mom, just try. OK, but keep trying Mom, and you can do it.” Wow! He was 8!
The afternoon that I found out about the possible MS diagnosis, a friend of mine brought me a stack of articles on MS. She knew my method to facing anything was to learn about it. I read them, that day. My conscious decision as I fell asleep that night was, “I will deal with this, as it comes”. “carry on as usual”!
The next week, the neurologist who took over came to me with more test results. Two of the tests to diagnose MS had come back as negative. The EMG showed excessive muscle activity in my neck, (constant muscle spasm), and decreased in my legs. This neurologists opinion was that I did not have MS, but spinal cord inflammation. This was good news, because if indeed it was true, it would mean that muscle weakness would be temporary!!
The neurologist was correct. Once the steroids starting working, my legs got stronger. Within two weeks I was walking easier with the walker, then to a cane. By the end of the month I was on my own. phew! What a relief! I was thankful beyond words! Now I only had the headache and neck muscle spasm to live with.
Do you see how that works. The glass is always half full. There is always a bright side. Something positive comes out of every situation. Every day, the sun shines and the stars twinkle at night. There is beauty in every sunset, even if I can not watch one each day. I can remember and picture the ones I watched, knowing that the sun will rise in the morning.
At that moment, 6 years ago, I did not know what I was to face for the next 6 years. I did not know that no matter what I tried my debilitating headache was going to stay. I did not know that the muscle spasm in my neck was going to interfere with every activity I attempted to do. I did not know how many sleepless nights I was in for. I did not know that my boyfriend was going to put me in a legal situation that was going to cost me thousands to try to keep the house that I bought. The house that I am raising my kids in. I did not know that he was going to sexually abuse me, to try to convince me to let him stay. I am glad that I did not know, because I felt optimistic. I was hopeful. I believed I was going to be ok. I am ok, but to say the last 6 years has been easy is an understatement.
The glass is half full, the sun is shining, I have two amazing kids…they are my reasons why!!! The sun will set tonight, and rise again in the morning, whether I am screaming with pain or not.