Getting a Diagnosis

IMPORTANT: If you suspect that you may have multiple sclerosis, before you see the doctor, ensure that you have adequate Health, Disability and Life Insurance. If any health professional tips you off that he/she suspects MS, request that no mention is made of this in any notes until you have sorted out the insurance issues. MS treatments are expensive and if you are forced out of the workplace you will need a source of income. Once a diagnosis is made it may be more difficult.

Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

 MRI images showing MS lesionsOften, the first thing anyone does when they notice strange neurological symptoms is to see their family doctor, these Primary Care Physicians will usually have between zero and six patients with MS on their books and, even then, rely heavily on the patient’s neurologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Multiple Sclerosis is known as the “Garbage Disease”. Because of the differential diagnosis (conditions that present with one or more of the same symptoms as MS,) it’s complicated for  doctors to confidently diagnosis MS. If doctors can’t identify a disease, they often claim it’s MS.

There is no specific test for multiple sclerosis and it is not even certain that it is only one disease. To an extent, getting an MS diagnosis is a process of eliminating all other possibilities.

I was different. Because I had been completely healthy until my eyes started moving (with rotary nystagmus), it was easy to get the diagnosis. I had the three situations that confirmed it: Rotary Nystagmus, white spots on my brain which the MRI concluded, and a small numb spot on my back. In three days I was diagnosed.

Typically, it takes longer, usually people go through several months of tests and is often drawn out over months or years. This can be a very unsettling and frightening period, the uncertainty can be very difficult to deal with.

For me, being diagnosed so quickly, and being in denial so strongly, I wasn’t concerned. We’ll never know, but looking back, I think my denial, and not getting on the MS drugs immediately was to my detriment.

None-the-less, I recognize the tremendous personal growth that I’ve acquired. You can check out a post I wrote when I identified my new reality. You need to know I am truly happy!

Have you been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, or do you know anyone who has? How long did it take for MS to be confirmed? Tell me in the comments below.

Linda Grace Cox

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