8/25 -- The Diagnosis in Which Nothing is Diagnosed.
Well, what do you know? The magical mystery spinal tap from hell yielded results that are officially "inconclusive." The neurologist told me that some protein strands were found in my spinal fluid, but that these could have been an offshoot of the optic neuritis and weren't a specific indicator of MS.
So I went through a painful and invasive and scary procedure and got sicker than a fucking dog and missed a shitload of work all for a test that ended up being "inconclusive." I swear ... someone up there is laughing at me. Really hard.
If you're wondering why I'm sounding angry about this instead of relieved that nothing worse was found, it's because of this: The neurologist examined my numb arm and then told me that because this is my third attack of such a problem within several months and because of the pattern these attacks have been following, he's now pretty certain that I do, in fact, have MS. But not certain enough to make an official diagnosis so that I can start getting treatment for it. Even though the last round of tests I had ruled out anything else that could be producing those symptoms.
At this point, I'm thinking that if I do have MS, I want to start treatment. Now. I don't want to waste time going through all these goddamned tests again. The doctor told me that the fact that the tests keep coming back clean is a good sign for my long-term prognosis if MS turns out to be the problem. And I think "Great. That's good to know. But why delay treatment until the tests start showing more serious neurological damage? If you're sure enough to actually come out and tell me you think I've got it, why not start doing something about it now?"
Makes sense, doesn't it? However, that's apparently not the way things work in medicine. So I'm going back to Reston Medical Center at 10:30 next Tuesday night for yet another round of MRIs. The neuro says that if these come up clean, I should be scheduled for another spinal tap. (There's no fucking way I'm going through another one of those things this soon, but I haven't told him that yet.)
I also contacted the Baltimore MS specialist my mother told me about. I was told that if I wished to make an appointment with Dr. Hotshot, I needed to have my current neuro fax all my records over to Dr. Hotshot's office, where Dr. Hotshot would review them and then decide if I deserved an appointment with him.
(Okay. They really didn't sound that hoity-toity on the phone. I'm just kinda frustrated, as you might have noticed by now.)
So that's where things are now. I'm pretty much back to where I was in May: I'm facing another round of annoying, painful tests with the possibility of a serious chronic illness hanging over my head, and I have the very very bad feeling that I'm going to be running on this particular treadmill for a while yet.
In the meantime, I've been reading various message forums and newsgroups on the topic and assembling vitamins and the like. Fuck 'em -- the doctors might have to wait, but I don't.
One year ago: I still don't think I was "lucky" to take piano lessons ...