Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My Sister Has MS

Well, April was a pretty crazy month for my family.

This little sweetie (my niece) who was born less than a week after the twins, had to have open heart surgery to close a hole in her heart the size of a quarter. A QUARTER!  Do you see her little fist?  That's about the size of her heart, and there was a hole the size of a quarter in it!

It's a very routine procedure with an incredibly high success rate.  But still! A one year old going in for open heart surgery!  Scary!  Fortunately she's doing great.

On top of that, as you may have guessed from the picture, her mama was due to give birth to her baby brother in the beginning of May.  Fortunately I'm saying "was" because he was born healthy and strong yesterday (our anniversary!).   The doctors were originally going to have her heart surgery later in the month.  I'm sure glad my sister made them move it up.

Then, while we were in California, my baby sister called home to say that her left hand and leg were numb and very weak.  She went into her college's health center and was told it would probably go away and that if it didn't after two weeks to come in again.  She had something similar happen the year before during finals and the symptoms went away after visiting a chiropractor for a while, so she thought she'd go see one again.

When she did, at one point the chiropractor asked her to stand with her arms outstretched and then touch her nose.  She had no problem doing it with her right hand, but when she tried to do it with her left, as her finger got close to her nose it kind of wobbled up and down for a few seconds before she could finally get it to touch her nose.  (Yeah, it was pretty funny to watch.  I made her do it several times for me).  He told her that was not caused by something wrong with the spine and that  she needed to go see a neurologist. 

My sister is on my parents insurance (i.e. California insurance) which would only pay for her to visit the ER.  So off to the ER she and my mom went.  To make a very long story short, after an MRI of both her brain and her spine and a spinal tap she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  

Not going to lie, when I heard that, I kind of panicked.  But after a few internet searches I felt a little better....if you go and do some internet searches you'll probably be like, "WHY THE HECK DID YOU FEEL BETTER!?!"  Mostly because at first I thought MS was Parkinson's disease.  Yeah, it's not.

Basically MS is an autoimmune disorder where a persons immune system attacks the covering that surrounds and protects the body's nerve fibers.  Sounds pretty scary huh?  And yeah, really, it can be scary.  But there are several types of MS.  The most common of which is relapsing-remitting MS.  

People with relapsing-remitting MS will go through "episodes" where symptoms come on, but between episodes, you're just fine.  Only time will tell what type of MS she has, but I knew my sister had similar "episodes" during finals last year, but that was it.  So it looks like it's relapsing-remitting and she has an episode about once a year.  

It's actually really good that she got diagnosed so young because now she is aware of it and can take steps to prevent episodes.  It appears that her episodes come on with stress, so she can do everything she can to alleviate that stress.  In addition, there is a medicine she can take that will increase the time between episodes.  I read stories of people with more severe symptoms than her who took the medicine and hadn't had another episode for over ten years.  So we're hopeful.  :)

That being said, it was still a pretty...shall we say not fun...couple of days.  She needed steroids to help her get through the episode, but because she was out of state, her insurance wouldn't pay for it unless she was in the hospital.  She couldn't just come in, get the steroids and leave, she had to be checked into the hospital.  Her doctor said there was no reason medically that she had to stay, but in order to get the insurance to cover her treatment, she had to stay in the hospital for five days.  Yeah, that'll cost them a lot less than just letting her go and get the steroids and then leave.  SOOOOO ridiculous.  (Anyone who doesn't think our country needs some serious health care reform, come talk to me, I'll give you an ear full). 

So, we spent a lot of graduation weekend visiting in the hospital.  

They even gave my mom one of those awesome hospital cups...which she then passed on to me.  I am pretty excited.  I was thinking about having another baby just so I could get another cup, but I'm good now.  ;)

Not gonna lie, being back in that hospital brought back a lot of memories.  Not all of which were bad.  That little cafe on the bottom floor has some great food.  :)  But all in all, I'm glad it's over.

We love you Stac! You really are as tough as a shark!

1 comment:

janae said...

Oh, your poor, poor family. That is a LOT of emotional turmoil. I'm so sorry. Crossing my fingers the heart surgery turns out perfectly and the MS ends up being the mildest kind there can be!