The first time I remember having any kind of symptom was when we returned from the Hatfield-McCoy Park in West Virginia. That summer we had taken both of our ATV’s there. We trailered them for the trip and headed out.
The most amazing thing I remember on the way to West Virginia was the guy driving in front of us. It was late at night and we were winding our way through a mountain. The guy in front of us was clearly drunk. He was straddling the middle line through every curve. As cars were coming toward him, he was swerving back into his own lane. Because we were driving up the side of a mountain, he almost mashed into the guardrail, almost going over the edge of the mountain several different times. His driving was so erratic we called 911 when we saw him pull into a gas station.
When we got to West Virginia, it was late, we were tired. We got to our destination and went straight to bed. The next morning we ate breakfast and head out. We were out all day exploring all the trails. I wasn’t as experienced riding ATV’s as Kevin, but he was a good teacher and I modeled everything he did.
The second day was the scariest part of the trip. Like the day before we ate breakfast, packed lunches and plenty of water and headed out. The difference about this day was the type of trails we were running into. These trails were much more difficult and the hills we were climbing were much steeper. Kevin always went up the hill first I and watched exactly which path he took and how he positioned himself on the ATV. When it was my turn, I did everything he did this time accept one thing, I stopped in the middle of the hill.
Stopping in the middle of a hill isn’t always bad, but when your experience was limited, as mine was, it could be problematic. For me it became a serious mistake. When I restarted to climb the hill, my mistake was not leaning as far forward as possible. On my left side was a drop off, probably several hundred feet. On my right side was a wall of dirt and mud.
By leaning forward after you have stopped in the middle of a steep hill on an ATV, you are putting weight on the front of the bike. This keeps you from falling backwards and the ATV rolling on top of you. Well, if you haven’t guessed, I fell backward and so did the ATV.
I knew that when something like this happens you need to jump off. My choices for this spit second decision was to either jump off to my left and end of falling several hundred feet or falling straight back. Remember, I couldn’t jump off right because it was a wall of dirt. I was lucky with the way the ATV was situated that when it fell on me it didn’t fall directly on top of me, if fell on my left arm and rolled the rest of the way down the hill. Thank goodness I was wearing my helmet because I had whacked my head on a huge rock when I fell back.
Imagine how difficult getting up a steep muddy hill on an ATV only to have to run down it in full gear like Kevin had on. I am not sure I have ever seen him run that fast before. I blacked out for a split second, but I was able to get up and walk. I had a huge bruise on the inside of my upper arm and my neck was sore, but no other major injuries.
Kevin got the ATV’s together. I had to ride back because we were in the middle of nowhere. I rested for the rest of the day. I was a little concerned about my neck because it was sore. I figured I would wait to go to the doctor on the way home the next day.
On our way home I was due to fly out to Seattle, Washington. Before I did that Kevin took me to the ER. I learned that I had whiplash. The doctor put me in a collar and I flew out a couple hours later. I will tell you, sitting in a plane for 5 hours having whiplash was not fun….I would much have rather had been dealing with passing a kidney stone!
After all the trips were over and I was back to a normal schedule, I started noticing numbness and tingling in my limbs. I first noticed the tingling running down my left arm when I was carrying my purse. It progressed to my legs. I was taking a shower shaving my legs and noticed they felt numb. Being a stubborn healthcare worker, I chalked it up to exhaustion. I did tend to burn the candle at both ends according to friends.
The following summer is when my symptoms started affecting my abilities at work. It started off with not being able to hold a mouse when I was on the computer. I had a hard time walking and the final straw for me is when I couldn’t tie a tourniquet. This was the first time I saw a level of serious concern in my family doctors eyes.
Several days later I saw a neurologist. For the most part my symptoms had cleared. But he wanted to do an MRI of my brain. I went for that and it was inconclusive. I was convinced that he needed to do an MRI of my neck. It took him two appointments and lots of convincing on my part to get him to order an MRI for my neck. He finally did and sure enough, that is where the diagnoses started to show up. The three choices on the report were Vascular Necrosis, which is arterial blockage which is more likely found in people with cardiac disease, smokers or people who are classified as obese. The second one was Lyme disease. I knew I hadn’t been bitten by any ticks. The final one was demyelinating disease. This is another name for Multiple Sclerosis. I was able to rule out the first two, but when I started researching what demyelinating disease meant, I had so many symptoms. Following these results, my neurologist followed up with a lumber puncture. This test withdrew an amount of Cerebral Spinal (CFS). There are several markers that provide for strong evidence for MS. My numbers were off the chart.
By the time I did the follow up appointment with my neurologist I was already convinced that MS would be the diagnosis. I had pretty much accepted it before the doctor verified it. So when he told me that MS was my official diagnosis, he was pretty shocked when I blew by the emotional piece and asked what our next steps were. My biggest concern at this time was the fact that we were in the process of fertility treatments and of and how that would affect my course of treatment.