It has been many years ago, but that day in April 2002 is a one day that I will never forget. I was at work struggling with not being able to see anything out of my left eye. Logically, I scheduled an appointment with my eye doctor only thinking that I was going blind. I have always been the type of person that was open with my managers about anything medical, especially when I was a little scared. So, my manager and a co-worker I was close to, knew why I had to leave work early. Both of them did offer to drive me to my appointment, but I was stubborn and said I could drive myself. As I was leaving they both told me to call them if I needed anything and definitely let them know what I find out from the doctor.
My drive from my old office to my eye doctor would be a 30 minute drive on a good day with hardly any traffic, but there was an unusual amount of traffic on this day causing the drive to take close to an hour! Luckily I always allow myself extra time because I really do hate being late, so I did make it on time! Of course I had to wait in the waiting room for a short time which allowed me time to respond to the text message from my manager and co-worker with them letting me know they were thinking about me!
When the doctor’s assistant called me back to the room, she asked me to explain what I was going through, which is always just a little frustrating because I had already explained this to the scheduler before hand. But, I did explain to her that I could not see out of my left eye but that my right eye was just fine. She had me to do the eye exam, I guess just to confirm what I had been saying. After another few minutes the doctor came in with his very pleasant personality and was trying to be as comforting as he could when I was already getting more concerned. My eye doctor, Dr. Walter Atlas, looked over the information his assistant had obtained, looked into my eye, did a few other what I considered random tests and then dilated my eye to do the last exam. He left me alone in the room for what seemed like hours when in all reality was probably just 30 minutes. When he came back in he said, “Well, Alyssa you do not have any kind of obstructions in your eye but obviously, something is not right.” He then carried on to tell me he was concerned with what my symptoms were, so he consulted with some of his colleagues and it was decided among several of them, that is was looking like I had Multiple Sclerosis. He was not able to finish his sentence when I started crying hysterically. The poor man did not know how to handle a young girl of 19 that was crying inconsolably. I did already know he had a daughter a little younger than me and corse hated seeing his daughter cry and not be able to fix it, so seeing me all alone in his office made him think of her, which he did tell me later. Dr. Atlas wanted me to be able to find out 100% for sure if it really was MS so he scheduled me a MRI for that same evening, only 2 hours from the time I left.
His news caught me SO off guard, it was literally the last thing I ever expected to hear that day. As I sat there alone in his office trying to make sense of what he had just told me all I was able to think of was that my father’s wife has MS and needed a cane or a wheelchair to get around, and I kept seeing that happening to me as well. I was so young, native and had only been exposed to one person with MS and knew no one in my family had MS. At that time I really did not know what MS was. In my young mind I was thinking I was going to be diagnosed, end up in a wheelchair and die sooner than I ever could have thought. Now that I am older and wiser, I know how absolutely insane that sounds, but I was young!
When I left my eye doctor’s office I was still so upset and still crying, plus my eyes were still dilated, I actually took a wrong turn and got lost. At that point I was so frustrated and did not know what to do, so I pulled over to the nearest gas station to ask for directions. I must have looked a mess but the nice lady at the counter informed me that my house was really close and told me where I needed to turn. I got back into my car and finished my drive home. I walked in the door still crying and SO confused I finally decided to call my mother and give her my news. Sometimes it doesn’t help when you are already upset to have the person on the other line upset as well.
Finally, it was time for me to get to the hospital for the first MRI I have ever had. I remembering laying the machine, having to be perfectly still scared to death. After 2 and a half very long hours, the test was finally over. As all of your that I have had a MRI, they are not allowed to tell you anything which has always been so frustrating. You know they see the screen and hopefully know what they are looking at. I left the hospital in tears again because I hate waiting for answers, especially about something that could be life altering. Honestly, I had not been home for 30 minutes when my eye doctor, of all people called me from his own home to give me the answers I wanted but did not really want to hear. He calmly explained to me that the MRI results did show that I did have MS. I guess he had really been prepared before I had left his office as to what the results were going to be, because he had already scheduled me with one of, if not the best Neurologist in my area for just a couple of days later.
Over the next few posts I am planning to continue how my journey went when I was first diagnosed. The next post I will tell you about my first appointment with the best and most compassionate Neurologist I have ever met, Dr. Michael Kaufman! It is easier and better for me to remember about all the feeling I had in the very beginning slowly. I do remember the first several years was incredibly hard for me and my ways for coping back then, were not anything that I would recommend anyone else doing. My coping mechanisms were not smart, they were immature and unhealthy, nothing illegal I promise!
I hope y’all have a good evening and thank you for stopping by to read my post for the day. This will kind of be a post series because it takes me a lot of time and emotion to do this. As always I truly love your comments and I do always respond as quickly as possible. Our communications really do make me so happy and I do hope you are enjoying my writing as much as I enjoy sharing this with you!