It is not Multiple Sclerosis, although it has symptoms of MS. Is is not Meniere's, although it has symptoms of Meniere's. It is not Parkinsonsm although it has symptoms of Parkinsons. It is most definitely Peripheral Neuropathy, of both the motor and sensory variety.
In the fall that I took on October 7th I lost consciousness. This does not happen when an MS sufferer falls nor when a Meniere's attack occurs. I did have vertigo and I did spend the evening dry retching. I spent the next two days at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) having both cardiac and neurologic assessments. The raised troponin levels (CPK) were symptomatic of an impending heart attack. But they are also raised when a seisure has occurred. All the muscles at the base of the buttock and down the back of both legs were frozen and took about 24 hours to relax back to normal. Prior to the fall I had the whirling and the flashing in the top RH quadrant which are indicative of vertigo which is a massive aspect of Meniere's.
I returned to work for another 8 days and then the second episode occurred. My son, who was with me organised the ambulance and I was in RPA for four days. I underwent two cardiac procedures: an Angiogram and an Electro-psysiology Study (EPS). The EPS found a wayward electrical beat in my heart and cauterized it. Not too unusual, occurring in about 10% of the population. Extraneous to the other symptoms. The Angiogram indicated that I had a strong heart with minimal heart disease. All this was good. But why was my blood pressure measured in the ambulance at 60/40 and why did it consistently read low during the hospital stay? And if my BP was low, why was I taking 20mg of Coversyl each morning!
Yesterday, I saw the cardiologist again. He is convinced it is not cardiac. But he is leading the holistic team that is nibbling around the symptoms and the test results to try to make sense of the data. With the balance, the gait and the vision problems, he has now suggested an opthalmologist join the team. I have diplopia in the left eye extensively and a little in the right. He could not see nystagmus but the week prior both the neurologists could see this in both eyes.
The extensive testing from the Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) that I underwent during 2008 is available to this new team. This includes many nerve induction tests, a complete body x-ray (13 in all) and a number of MRIs of the head and chest.
I have difficulty determining if the information coming from my eyes to my brain is correct and have to think through crossing the road. It is a bit like a mirage down the other end of the street. I have trouble determining depth when I take a step and am hesitant to put my foot down too firmly. Know when you step off only to realise that there was no further step to negotiate. Imagine that with every other step you take. My balance on the LHS is wonky and I diverge to that side and sometimes have difficulty bringing myself upright again. My friends have convinced my to purchase a walking stick to have with me in my backpack - for rough ground. I now always accept the proffered arm.
The rules are: reduce stress; no driving; stairs with balaustrades only; more sleep; better nutrition; reduce alcohol; wear a hat and reduce heat; and, the hardest one, don't live by myself.
I am staying with my daughter for three weeks. Although I only moved into a new cottage two months ago, I am breaking the lease and moving to another place which is 5 minutes drive from Kirsten and has no internal stairs. It is also on a bus line (the 389) and about 100m from my father's nursing home. Living with Kirsten I am developing better patterns of sleeping, eating and drinking that I will be able to take to the new place with me. Kirsten has both the car and the car keys (for a while I had known that when I stopped the car and opened the door to get out, the bitumen was still moving).
Tomorrow, Friday 6th November, I retire from my job at the university after two weeks sick leave. The job was an experiment which to me did not work. The reports and systems that I created were not used by any of the academics they were created for. I was doing work that was not appreciated and there was never enough of it. This is immensely stressful. Both my children suggested that I stop even though my retirement age (as calculated by the government) was 64. One of my tasks this week is to set up a flexi-pension from my superannuation fund.
I will post this and reread it as the day progresses, adding anything that I think rounds the story out.
How do I feel? Nervous. Apprehensive. Pleased. Positive, perhaps.
My daughter sent me an article called "Diversify Yourself" by Peter Bregman.