Feb 17, 2012
Aug '11: Unknown insect bite that was visible for 10 weeks started a major hive reaction that lasted for 8 weeks. Hives were treated with a steroid shot and two 10 day courses for Prednisone followed by daily use of Allegra allergy medication, also a steroid. I continued to work as much as I could during this time and with a 24/7 schedule with no set hours (50-60 hours a week)as a railroad freight conductor. The constant itching made sleeping at irregular times even more difficult than usual.
Oct. '11: Stopped using the steroids once the hives were finally gone. The fatigue was getting worse. I'm not sure if things started slow, or if it was just sleep deprivation causing me to struggle a bit with word choices and concentration, etc.
Taking a verbal change of train symbol (a series of letters and numbers) from clerk, she started dictating it so quickly that I was a few digits behind her and instead of writing it down in order, my hand seemed disjointed from my brain. I started writing the digits she was saying as opposed to the digits I was thinking if that makes any sense. I would start to write"C" but she would say "A" and I would end up writing and "A" I wrote the whole thing out correctly but I had to go back and fill in blanks I had missed along the way. After taking a catnap while waiting at a red signal, I woke up and could not see out of my right eye. It seemed like the pupil was stuck closed not allowing sufficient light in to see in the dark. That lasted about 5 minutes and then my vision returned. During this same trip, I had to walk along the RR grade in the loose rock (ballast) for about 500 feet to set handbrakes on the RR cars. I kept turning my ankle if a rock would shift and was generally walking like I was drunk. While tying hand brakes, my movements seemed slow and clumsy. It took a lot more concentration than usual to coordinate my movements. On the way back, more aware of the strange sensation, I used the brake stick like a walking stick and concentrated on the terrain and was able to walk much straighter and not turn my ankles. I was observed walking like a drunk, (and possibly my strange incident with the train symbol) and had to take a drug test even though no one actually thought I was drunk or drugged up. Standard procedure but still very embarrassing! When it came back clean, I was put on a suspension pending a "fitness for duty" health evaluation.
Skipped right over Primary doctor and made appt. with my husband's neurologist (he has a seizure disorder). Talking to the neuro, I realized that I have had minor issues going back to '05 that I had chalked up to sleep deprivation but are highly MS suspicious, including my first bout of no vision for a few minutes after waking up in my right eye. I went to the eye doctor about that and he said my eyes were fine and never mentioned MS and I had no idea what a red flag that should have been. After some major family losses in '07 I took a leave of absence, mainly due to fatigue and what I thought was sleep deprivation combined with stress: lack of concentration, clumsiness. I improved greatly after a few weeks of normal sleep patterns and went back to work full time after a few months. I was able to work fewer hours due to a slow down in trains and did pretty well only being called on duty around 3x a week. When they started laying people off and making the people go back to 6 or 7 days a week, I couldn't function on that schedule and voluntarily took a lay off. I have never worked more than a month or two at the full 6 or 7 days a week since '07, when my seniority was good enough to hold a 5 day/6 hour shift, I could handle that, but that was about saturation point for me. After the office exam and the eye movements that entailed, my eye hurt so badly I felt like I was being stabbed. He found issues with color saturation and I realized that I had been having that for months, wondering why my engineer wearing his thick glasses was able to see the color of the RR signals well before I could with my 20/15 vision. The 120 mile drive home through the first snowstorm of the year was almost more than I could handle. The oncoming headlights were intensely painful and blinding! Things got much worse for awhile, including 3 more incidents of no vision in my right eye. Fortunately none of them lasted for more than a few minutes, but my vision was blurry and strange, almost like looking through the new 3D glasses. I had some mild tingling in my feet and feeling like my sock is wet on my right toes, some vocabulary and speech issues.
Most of these things went away in late November but I still feel like am constantly on the verge of a bladder infection, but it never gets any worse or better.
In hindsight, I have had some very suspicious signs that I didn't recognize. In July '10 the hitch between the railcars broke in two on a hill requiring me to walk 1 1/2 miles in 100 degree + weather, manually set handbrakes on about 50 cars, carry and 80 lbs. "knuckle" (the hitch between cars) a few 100 feet, change it out for the broken one and then untie all those handbrakes. I was walking around out there for around 4 hours, drank about a case of bottled water, and kept changing out those gel pack neck coolers. The whole families health insurance is through me, but I almost quit, no joke. I honestly wasn't sure I could do it. If the track had been close enough to the highway and really think I might have hitchhiked back to the depot and never looked back. I felt like me blood was moving to slow to supply oxygen to my muscles and that the air was just too hot to breathe. I noticed Quix mentioned that the heat just makes her irrationally angry, too. That is the best description of my normal reaction to being overheated. Christmas '09 I had to go sit outside on the porch in the middle of cooking Christmas dinner because my father in law kept cranking up the woodstove to a roaring blaze because he was freezing (only 25% of his heart functions so he is always cold) and I was wondering if I was going to have a heat stroke. I was annoyed enough to tell the family that they were going to get leftovers for Christmas Dinner or someone else was going to have to take over the cooking if anyone messed with the fire again. I was not feeling jolly!
I have also gone to the doctor 2X since the summer of '10 thinking I had a bladder infection and no sign of infection was found.
My sense of smell is in hyperdrive. I can smell cigarette smoke when a car drives by me in a parking lot wt / the windows rolled up. If the cats use their litter box in a completely different part of the house, I nearly gag. Sometimes I smell something like rotten food but no one else can smell it and there is no logical reason it should be there.
My doctor was shocked when my MRI came back "clean", he had me listed as clinically probably MS. However, I only had a brain MRI w/ and w/o contrast. No spinal MRI no Optic Nerve MRI, no LP. According to some things I've read, I would assume that I would be more likely to have lesions of my Cervical MRI and Optic Nerve MRI.
Jan '12: I have been trying to get back to work on a "reserve board" that would allow me to work 1 day per week at 20% pay with full benefits. I am still working on getting declared "fit for duty". So far I've had a 2nd opinion from a very obnoxious Neurologist, an eye exam and visual field test from a very nice Opthamologist, and have an appt. on Feb. 28 of Neuropsych testing. I am holding out hope that this could turn out to be something treatable like Lymes's Disease and have an appt. with a LLMD on April 25. I am supposed to go in Feb. 20 to my original Neuro for a follow up and to schedule more tests.
Feb '12: Got a sinus infection and the cold virus that is going around. I had a productive cough and cold like symptoms that went away after about 4 hours!? Weird. Sinus infection got worse and my Optic Neuritis symptoms fatigue, and minor vocabulary and speech problems returned. Treated my sinus infection with colloidal silver and essential oils and it is nearly gone. My recurring symptoms are nearly gone as well.