Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Diagnosis: Early Multiple Sclerosis

Yesterday Bryan, Seth, and I headed to Vanderbilt to meet Dr. Moses, a neurologist who specializes in Multiple Sclerosis. We went sort of expecting to hear the same things that we have heard from every other doctor so far, but that ended up not really being the case at all. It's standard procedure to walk down a hallway briskly and to read an eye chart when you arrive each time to the MS Clinic. After obtaining some vitals we were able to see Dr. M just a few minutes later. It was such a pleasant change for a doctor to be on time and actually even early because we arrived at the clinic several minutes before my scheduled appointment time. Dr. M was super personable and from the few patients we heard him talking to in the hallway, he seemed to genuinely care. After taking a look at my MRI scans and the results from my blood work and lumbar puncture, all the while explaining everything that he was looking at and showing me the scans, he said he was more than 90% sure that I have early MS. If I had not been pregnant he said he would have started treatment that day. Because I am though, we will have to wait until after "little" is born and after I have been able to breastfeed between 3 to 6 months. Apparently breastfeeding has some of the same qualities as the MS medication and by exclusively breastfeeding it is almost as good as receiving the treatment. Once all that has happened then we will get into all the details of choosing the right preventative treatment for my situation. Without treatment I have a 50% of having a flair up once a year. With treatment I only have about a 30% chance of having a flair up every three or more years. We learned the flair ups could be mild or they could be severe which could be anything from dizziness, numbness of limbs, change in eyesight, or balance. It doesn't sound too bad, but the flair ups could be very damaging and over time they could add up to a lot of permanent nerve damage. Dr. M mentioned that my MRI scans showed only mild nerve damage and there was no spinal cord damage so I am in a very good situation since we are starting treatment so early. I was told that I needed to just take some time to process all the news and unless something happens before then I will see Dr. M again in September, one month after "little" has arrived. I had a little more blood work done and then we were on our way back home.
A few minutes after the doctor's visit Bryan asked me what I was thinking. To be honest the only thing that I could think about was the fact that I might only be able to breastfeed for as long as 6 months. I had asked if it could be a year and Dr. M had mentioned that at the 3 month mark we will have to assess where we are and that at 6 months we would probably need to start treatment because it would benefit my health more than the breastmilk would benefit the baby. That is really the only thing that upset me the whole day. But we will do what we need to do when the time comes.
There are a few things that I am very thankful about. Bryan and I knew we wanted to try to have another baby shortly after Seth turned a year old in September. We were pregnant with "little" by the end of November. If I had lost my eyesight due to optic neuritis and I had not been pregnant the chances of us being able to have another child would have been very slim because the treatments would be extremely dangerous for pregnancy and the risks being off of treatment while trying to get pregnant could have adverse effects on my health.
I am also thankful to have an answer to my fatigue. I thought I was just really tired because of the pregnancy, and while that could play a role in it as well as taking care of a very busy 18 month old, my need for a nap every day during Seth's nap is more than likely due to the MS. We are working on getting approval from my OB for a vitamin that just might help.
Lastly, I am thankful for a more definite diagnosis, everyone's prayers, and my slowly returning eye sight. It has been one heck of a learning experience these last few weeks and I am sure it will continue to be.


  1. I am very thankful this was caught early and you can be treated soon to keep you healthier. I am also thankful that 'little' will be able to enjoy a wonderful life with you, Bryan and Seth. You are on my prayer list which means I am praying for you every day. Love you...

  2. Stephanie. Your strength and optimism are so inspiring. You could easily be saying poor me (which would totally be OK) but you aren't. Instead you are focusing on your children, on the positives. You are an amazing mother, an inspiring woman, and I know this diagnosis will not keep you from living a beautiful life with your beautiful family. Know you are greatly loved. See you soon!

  3. Praying for you girl. Your faith is inspiring.

  4. Stephanie, I am sorry to hear that. Bryan had been telling us what was going on, but I feel bad that we didn't continue to ask. Praise the Lord they have caught it early. We will be praying for you in the coming months! Let us know if we can do anything!