2004. It started with a bout of double vision, headaches and falling over that could not be attributed to alcohol, or needing new specs. My GP sent me to an ophthalmologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, who ran a battery of tests involving flashing lights and buttons to click. He then pronounced my eyes perfectly healthy, so I should probably not delve into it too much in case of “consequences”. Pat me on the head, run along now…
I asked to see a neurologist, and was sufficiently concerned to pay for it. By the power of the private sector and the Nuffield’s own MRI suite, I was consulted, prodded and MRIed in one sitting within 48 hours of requesting the appointment. Woo-hoo. The consultant tried to break it to me gently that there was some kind of imflammatory condition going on, and I looked him in the eye and said, “It’s MS, isn’t it?”
“What makes you say that?”
“My MD’s wife was diagnosed 18 months ago with almost the same symptoms.”
“Oh. Well. Yes, that’s what it’s looking like but we’ll need to see the MRI to be sure.”
He saw the MRI. He was sure.
Referral to an MS specialist back on the dear old NHS followed, and a chest X-ray to elminate sarcoidosis, and a lumbar puncture to confirm the MS. There is no definitive test for MS you see; it’s not like you can take a swab and culture it up and then look at the furry blobs under the microscope and say yes, that’s MS. But if you’ve got white spots on your MRI and then they find oligoclonal bands in your cerebrospinal fluid, it’s a pretty strong indicator.
So there it was. I had relapsing-remitting MS. Not a classic presentation, apparently, but then I am renowned for doing things the hard way.