Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

Often, the first thing anyone does when they notice strange neurological symptoms is to see their family doctor, these Primary Care Physicians will usually have between zero and six patients with MS on their books and, even then, rely heavily on the patient’s neurologist for diagnosis and treatment. Multiple Sclerosis is known as the “Garbage Disease”.

Because of the differential diagnosis (conditions that present with one or more of the same symptoms as MS) it’s complicated for doctors to confidently diagnosis MS. If doctors can’t identify a disease, they often claim it’s MS.

There is no specific test for multiple sclerosis and it is not even certain that it is only one disease. To an extent, getting an MS diagnosis is a process of eliminating all other possibilities.

I was different. Because I had been completely healthy until my eyes started moving (with rotary nystagmus), it was easy to get the diagnosis. I had the three situations that confirmed it: Rotary Nystagmus, white spots on my brain which the MRI concluded, and a small numb spot on my back. In three days I was diagnosed.

Typically, it takes longer, usually people go through several months of tests and is often drawn out over months or years. This can be a very unsettling and frightening period, the uncertainty can be very difficult to deal with. I wasn’t upset at all because I didn’t believe that I had the disease. I had never experienced sickness and I was confident I wasn’t sick then.

For me, being diagnosed so quickly, and being in denial so strongly, I wasn’t concerned. We’ll never know, but looking back, I think my denial, and not getting on the MS drugs immediately was to my detriment.