Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Life Post DX

Its been approx. 2 yrs since my hubby, we'll call him Strap, was dx with MS. RRMS to be exact. It was first thought to be a pull or pinched nerve for which he sought out a chiropractic answer. Several weeks later when we decided that this isn't getting us anywhere, a close friend mentioned to me that someone she knew had similar symptoms. She told me that I should have Strap's doctor look into the possibility of MS.

When I picked my heart up off the floor, we decided that we should check into that if only to alleviate it from the list of possibilities. Besides, my husband of 24+ yrs., my heart, my soul couldn't possibly have MS.

But when we looked at the whole picture and we saw the symptoms staring at us from the web pages, we began to suspect it was a possibility we may have to face. But we took a deep breath and shared our concerns or fears with his primary care physician. He in turn began setting up appts. for different studies or tests, and telling us not to worry.

He referred Strap to a neurologist at this point. We continued on with our daily lives, going from one appt. to the next. Still unable to work physically, Strap began to get very frustrated and depressed. Not finding relief from this nagging pain unless he took pain medication. His description of the pain in his upper back was that it felt as though he had termites chewing. His doctor was pretty sure it was just a pinched nerve but went ahead and scheduled an MRI and a Spinal tap in an effort to rule MS out.

The spinal actually came first. This was very scary for Strap. He’d never had one before, but had at one time, an epidermal. This was for a back injury he got from his job as a driver and stocker of building materials.

We tried to remain positive. But the more I read the more I began to think it was indeed MS. The symptoms seemed to point right to MS. I researched online as well as read as much as I could to become more knowledgeable on the subject, just in case.

So, the time comes when we receive the diagnosis. He had been referred to a neurologist in a nearby town prior to all the big tests. She began a battery of tests from blood work to MRI’s. But it was the spinal tap that actually clinched her diagnosis.

Strap is a very hardworking man. He has always worked hard and when he began driving he found his niche. Working for a few different employers, earning awards and trophies along the way. He began with his current employer about a year prior to this all happening. It was the company he’d been hoping to work at for several years.

It turned out that this company was not only generous with benefits, they also care about their employees. Its like a big family there. When Strap was unable to fulfill the duties he originally was hired for, they found something for him to do so that he got the 30 hrs requirement in for the medical coverage. This could have cost us $400 a month or more.

When we were given the dx, we had to decide whether or not we should inform the company. Strap felt somewhat confident that they would work with him, but we had our doubts. We asked the advice of family and friends. We took time to look at all the pros and cons associated with being upfront vs. keeping it quiet.

After deliberating, we set up an appt. with the head of the company and Straps main supervisor. Strap felt he needed to be honest with them and just hope for the best. With a letter in hand from his doctor stating that he was physically able to perform his job, with only a few limitations.

The day came when we finally met with his supervisor and the head of the company. We explained that what was first dx as a pinched nerve led to the dx of RRMS. As with most people who first hear, they expressed there sympathy. Then they followed that up stating that if he was indeed cleared to work and wanted to continue, they would make any changes necessary to support that decision.

Strap asked for some time, approx. 1 month, to get on a medical treatment and become stabilized. They agreed wholeheartedly and shook hands. We provided them with the letter from the doctor as well as reading material regarding things that may affect his performance. Strap told them that his record with the company, to this point, should speak for itself in that he is a hard worker and very reliable. He followed it with stating he truthfully can’t say how long he can continue at this job, but he loves his job. He will continue to work hard and provide as close to 100% as possible.

They in turn have made every effort to keep Straps working environment as safe and manageable as possible. They recognize the fact that there are going be some days that he just can’t perform his duties. His co-workers, as well as his supervisors, can usually spot when Strap is not up to par. His body language says alot.

They keep his work truck serviced with close attention paid to the air conditioning. They are very aware of his issues with heat and fatigue. He has permission to take rests when he needs to. He is also allowed to run his truck's air conditioning 24/7, when needed. They also know that if he calls in and states he is unable to come in, he’s not lying.

So, after being on his betasoren, drug for ms, for approx. 1 month; and experimenting with differents meds for pain and fatigue, he was able to achieve a level where he could return to work, safely and confidentally.

Back to work, on a limited schedule, Strap was definitely much happier. That's not to say that it was easy on him. He struggled for quite awhile, but eventually he found some balance. We started him on supplements that have been shown to have positive effects on MS sufferers. He has his good days as well as his bad ones.

Our last MRI showed no progression, and no new lesions. Yes, you read that correctly. I said "OUR". You see, this disease affects him physically but its something that we all need to face. Its not easy. There are alot of things he can no longer do, but there are many more things that he still can and its up to me to remind him of this.

So this is where I will start and I will do my best to not bore anyone, but no promises here because what may bore one person may very well help another.

Thanks for reading.

No comments: