It's been awhile since I've posted here, but until last Friday, there was really nothing to report. Saw the neurologist's Physician's Assistant yesterday morning. We were there for three hours, mostly waiting for one thing or another; BUT, I have a preliminary answer to the cause of my woes! I tried to get the results of the blood work, cervical spine MRI, EMG and NCV tests by phone, but apparently, unless you are dying, they won't tell you much of anything over the phone. They want you in the office, face to face. My appointment was for October 30th, but they cancelled and rescheduled for November 8th because the PA had a death in the family.

Here's the scoop as I know it so far. The preliminary blood work was all within normal range, except for an elevated titre (?) reading on the one measuring auto-immunity. They wanted to send me right over to a rheumatologist at an exorbitant expense and good distance away and I resisted, saying you need to prove to me that I must do this. I made some headway with the PA (her name is Crystal - she deserves to be called by name since she can think "outside the box"). Crystal had the tech draw six more vials of blood yesterday. She was great and I barely felt it! They are basically digging deeper into possible reasons for the elevated auto-immunity readings - things like vitamin E deficiency, lupus, celiac disease and some other possibilities. It's fine. The good news is I don't have active cancer, pernicious anemia, carpel tunnel, brain tumor, spinal cord injury, STD's or a mental illness.

What I do have is damage in the cervical area of my spinal column; specifically the discs from C3 through T1. Findings indicate (and I'm condensing this) disc protrusion, spondylosis, facet joint arthropathy, foraminal narrowing, canal narowing, lateral spurs and a possible nerve root sleeve cyst on T2. In essence, multilevel significant degenerative disc disease leading to multilevel canal and foraminal stenosis without cord compression (so the spinal cord itself is okay). The could also see left and right curvature of the cervical spine, which I already knew about.

They wish to check the thoracic area with another MRI, but we can wait for now until after I get medical insurance through the exchange. I have a copy of the report and have sent it to my social security disability attorney who was very happy to receive it.

No surgery is indicated for this and unless it was life threatening, I wouldn't let them do it anyway. Outcomes are always poor. This is a management problem. The nerves are overreacting and that's what's causing all this numbness, tingling, burning, muscle cramping, loss of balance, headaches, clumsiness, probably the vision problems and I am pretty sure, my sinus problems! It explains why I can't sleep for more than three hours at a time. My body is on "high alert" constantly and overreacts to every little thing. No wonder I'm constantly feeling like I'm being shot with adrenalin!

I know now that my vegetarian diet is not part of the problem. Nor is this all my imagination. Crystal and I had a good talk and in addition to the blood work (and possible thoracic MRI later), I am going to be given exercises to try and strengthen my neck, shoulders and back. She wanted to send me to physical therapy, but we both knew that was out of my reach. She's going to find exercises online and send them to me. The other thing she did was to give me a prescription for Gabapentin. That drug is inexpensive and safe. I take one at night. In addition to helping me sleep (which it did and I got eight hours straight last night), it also calms the nerve impulses. One of its main uses is for epilepsy and is also used for migraines, MS, post operative pain management and often used for shingles to reduce the pain once the shingles starts to heal. Interestingly enough, I used to take another drug called Tegretol which was prescribed for me years ago for post traumatic stress disorder. It helped me a lot. It was a pharmacist who told me that the Tegretol was negating the therapeutic properties of the cancer drug, Aromasin. So I stopped taking the Tegretol. Over time, all this nerve stuff came back, but I thought it was from chemo! This has been quite a revelation overall.

It's too soon to tell if this drug will tone down or eliminate the really annoying nerve stuff I feel 24/7, but at least I know I can sleep. I think that once it builds up in my blood, it will help. Right now, I'm so happy to know I'm not crazy! I can learn to work around this.