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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
Heathen Offline
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Facing the possibility of chronic illness - March 19th 2019, 03:15 AM

I've been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder since I was nine years old. I've definitely had my fair share of struggles with my mental illness. However, minus hypothyroidism and osteoarthritis of the ankle I have been reasonably healthy. I didn't realize how grateful I should've been for that until now.

About six weeks ago I started having a difficult time walking properly. This was shortly followed by headaches (especially behind the eyes), blurred vision and nystagmus, slurred speech, and awful nausea and vomiting. I went to the ER twice, where they checked for things like a stroke or brain tumor, but my CT scan and a MRI I were all normal. I followed up with my PCP. She sent me to a neurologist. Since I had been having falls the neurologist prescribed a cane, physical therapy, and an MRA (an MRI that specifically looks at blood flow in the brain to check for aneurysms) and a lumbar puncture.

We did those tests last Tuesday. Of course being the worry wart that I am I had been trying to match my symptoms with illnesses on Google. I had really thought it was intracranial hypertension, but when they did the lumbar puncture my spinal fluid came out at a perfectly normal rate, so that ruled that out. I'm worried about MS, but there were no visible lesions on my spinal cord on the MRI so people say it's unlikely.

I see the neurologist for followup next week. I know it could be anything, even something completely curable, but with symptoms this severe and this persistent I am really worried it's going to be a chromic illness. Maybe even one that shortens my life. I'm even more worried, though, that the tests will show nothing. That I just have strange unexplained symptoms. Or worse that I'll be dismissed or told I'm making it up/it's all in my head. I've noticed doctors like to do that with patients who have mental illness, especially anxiety.

I have no idea what to do.

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Latte Offline
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Re: Facing the possibility of chronic illness - March 19th 2019, 03:33 PM

So sorry to hear you're going through this. That sounds very scary and frightening. I hope you get some answers when you see the neurologist next week.

I know you're worried you won't be taken seriously, but it sounds like so far everyone is taking you seriously, getting you things like MRIs, CT scans, and the MRA scan, and a cane and physio and stuff. I am sure the neurologist will also take you seriously, especially as your doctor felt that the referral was necessary.

I know the possibility of a chronic illness is scary, and I know it's hard not to catastrophize. I have an anxiety disorder, and it makes everything feel worse when something is actually wrong. But I think the important thing to remember is that, like you said, it could be something that is treatable that will go away. In addition, so many people have chronic diseases that they can manage, such as diabetes, and still live long and full lives. I know something is wrong right now, but it will hopefully be ok soon.

Please let us know how it goes
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Celyn Offline
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Re: Facing the possibility of chronic illness - March 20th 2019, 06:48 PM

Sorry to hear how badly your physical symptoms have been affecting you. I know you've struggled a lot with your mental health and I can't imagine how you must be feeling dealing with these more severe symptoms now.

But as Latte said above, you will (or at least definitely should) be taken seriously. You've done the right thing in getting help from health professionals and if nothing shows up on the scans, you should be offered more help. I understand that having mental illness may make you seem 'unreliable' but professionals should always take you seriously when it comes to your health.

I think it's only natural to want to look things up on Google, though as you've realised if often just causes more anxiety. It might be something chronic and on the other hand, it might not be. But it's important to keep in mind that many things are treatable and even if, worst case scenario, it is chronic, it can be managed so that your symptoms aren't as severe.

Best of luck with the neurologist and keep us updated if it helps

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