Something weird was happening with my vision.
No big deal.
Periodically I felt a brief jolting pain shooting from my left eye.
Lately, after my jogs in the park my vision gets unusually dark.
One day I haphazardly covered my right eye with my hand and discovered I could not see out of my left eye.
A few more days passed and I knew something wasn’t quite right. But I was in nursing school and at that point in my life, nothing was more important. I was extremely swamped with course work. Only days before, I walked face first into the cinderblock wall of my dorm room! I attributed all these unusual physical mishaps to that unintentional march into the wall! Eventually, I surrendered to the pain that in turn ushered me to the eye doctor.
That trip to the eye doctor marked a turning point in my 25-year existence. I confidently walked into the dark exam room and announced that I had a retinal detachment. (I had just studied this in class.) He did his exam and concluded that I did not have a retinal detachment! GREAT! Relieved, I left the exam room.
I was almost home free and out the door. Then, I remembered covering my eye. What is he talking about? SOMETHING IS DEFINITELY WRONG! Panic meter began rising. I did an about face and headed back to the exam room. My walk became a strut that progressed to a jog. By the time I reached the exam room my panic meter had exploded. I was panting! I burst into the exam room and found the optometrist examining his next patient. I desperately squawked, “BUT I CAN’T SEE OUT OF MY LEFT EYE!”
A light bulb went off for him. He examined me once more. He began by asking me about my family history. I again pleaded to him to fix my eye. His answer, I want you to go get a MRI…today. Thanks to nursing school I was familiar with that test, but I didn’t know why he wanted ME to go get one. I did the scan at 3 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. the phone rang. “I want you to see a neurologist tomorrow morning” my optometrist said. The doctor called me at home…himself! WHAT?
That night I called my parents in Baton Rouge and said, “I’ve been having trouble seeing. First, I went to the eye doctor. He sent me for an MRI. Now, I have an appointment with a neurologist in the morning.” Silence. “I think it’s something serious.” I managed to mumble. Then when they finally spoke: “What time should we be there?”
The next day my parents and sister drove an hour to meet me in the exam room with LSU’s chief of neurology. I presented my story once again, “I hit the wall face first and now I’m having vision changes. That’s all. Just give me some eye drops! Please.” A tone of desperation crept into my voice. He said. “No, it’s the other way around, Nicole.
You hit the wall BECAUSE you have been having trouble seeing.” I didn’t let up. I continued to give him a thorough interrogation offering him alternative diagnoses and questioned his ability to interpret my MRI scan. He calmly stood, stepped into my personal space, stared me in the eye and declared,
“Nicole, I am 99.9 percent sure you have Multiple Sclerosis.”