Here is my 7 Month MS Update.
I had two MRIs scheduled this month to check up on my progress. Since I chose to not go on conventional medicine my primary neurologist Dr. Baskind (the one that diagnosed me) wanted to ensure I wasn’t getting any worse in the past few months so he requisitioned them. I also see my family doctor and a neurologist at St. Mike’s Hospital MS Clinic. I’m going to write this blog post in three parts as open letters to each of my physicians and my experience with them reviewing the results of my MRIs.
On July 6 and 10th I worked from home as the mid-day MRIs were scheduled at North York Hospital near my condo. I was determined to run to both of these appointments. It was my way of saying “Hey MS, remember I’m the boss”.
Both appointments went well. I used my yoga breathing techniques to stay calm in the tube as I was in the machine for 45 – 50 mins for both tests. I’m actually kind of glad that they split up the MRIs as doing both on one day would’ve been exhausting. I donned my Mizuno run gear for both appointments to remind myself of the campaign tagline. The hashtag #mileschangeyou continues to resonate with me. The miles I’ve covered since my diagnosis in December make me proud of this little body that is carrying me through race after race and workout after workout despite having these cells that get confused and eat my myelin sheath around my central nervous system 🙂
I had a follow-up appointment at St. Mike’s MS Clinic with Dr. Selchen on July 22 and then on July 30th with my diagnosing neurologist Dr. Baskind. I thought I was going to have to wait until July 30 to find out the results as he was the physician who requested them. Little did I know that my MRI results reports would also be sent to my family doctor Dr. Segal as well. An hour before I was scheduled to go to North York for the Spine MRI on July 10th I got a phone call from my family doctor about my brain MRI results.
A Letter To My Family Doctor
Dear Dr. Segal,
Thank you for calling me with excitement in your voice with the results of my brain MRI. I could hear in your voice how happy you were for me and for that I truly thank you. She announced over the phone “there are no new lesions!” Technically that was a goal! No new lesions mean the disease hasn’t progressed. But then she reads out “the lesions actually appear to have decreased in size!” WHAAAA…. But in all seriousness, I was ready for that result too as that is what happened to my father as well (who also has MS).
It is common for lesions to not appear as large on MRIs with the dye enhancement. MS lesions can also be called scars as this is where the myelin has been damaged around our nerves. If they are not appearing as large then I understand this to mean that I’ve been able to reduce the inflammation around the area. Although I know I cannot repair those areas on my own as no cure has been found for re-myelination. However, if I can keep the disease from progressing then I’m doing something right! WHICH IS AMAZING NEWS and should be celebrated as such! Thank you Dr. Segal for celebrating with me!
The day of my appointment at the MS clinic I went into her office to get my blood work results which we had requisitioned a few weeks before and to get a copy of my brain MRI report as seen above for the neurologist. I wanted to bring this with me to see Dr. Selchen as I didn’t get the scans on CD this time around and the spine MRI results still weren’t ready. I had a morning appointment at the clinic and was excited to see one of my neurologists.
A Letter To A Neurologist
Dear Dr. Selchen,
When I first met you in January you were a bit grumpy with me. It was my first appointment at the MS Clinic at St. Mike’s hospital. My intake was done with one of your residents. I spent probably an hour with her and only 15 mins with you. You both talked me through the benefits and side effects of oral disease modification therapies which my primary neurologist had recommended for my lifestyle. You took the time to tell me about Tecfidera and Aubagio which I was making a decision about and you were patient with me. You didn’t have the best bedside manner but it was also near the end of the day and I could see the clinic was a busy one with an endless line of patients.
You were respectful with your answers but definitely urged me to make a fully educated decision, which I did. When I came in on July 22 I shared my brain MRI report with you and you turned to me and said “this is good news! And how do you feel!?” I reported that I feel great, spectacular even (my favourite word), that I have great energy and have minimal symptoms. I was excited to tell you that I’ve already done 15 races this year. I stated that “I was slightly determined not to let MS stop me” Your response was golden “I would like to know what it would look like if you were fully determined!” You performed neuro strength tests on me and stated that based on these results let’s schedule MRIs in a year. Back in January, I wasn’t sure I needed to be seen by two neurologists but now I am of the mindset that having two neurologists gives me balanced perspectives and you do specialize in my disease. Thank you for a great appointment, for smiling at me and being excited about my results.
A Letter To My Second Neurologist
On July 30, I had my appointment with my diagnosing neurologist Dr. Baskind. I luckily already knew the results of my spine MRI as well. My family doctor actually called me on July 23 as I was getting ready to go to my great aunt’s celebration of life. Dr. Segal left me a voicemail and I listened to it before my parents and grandmother picked me up for the service. I listened to the voicemail and received the same news as my brain MRI. Since my spine lesion is responsible for my symptoms this was amazing news. I let my Dad and Mom listen to the voice mail and we all cried happy tears. I was heading into my appointment with Dr. Baskind thinking I’d be receiving the same level of happiness and excitement as my other physicians.
Dear Dr. Baskind,
You were a friendly face after spending a night in the ER last December that calmly answered my questions and diagnosed me. You were wearing a bowtie and my friend and I were able to make a joke and smile with you. You were calm in my follow-up appointment that month explaining all my options and answering my questions. You were respectful when I chose not to go on conventional medicine. This time round I came to see you at the end of the day and I was so excited to see you since I knew my results already. You barely smiled as you delivered the good news. No new lesions is good news and deserves to be celebrated. Instead, you just wanted to make sure that I was truly ok not being on medication. You educated me on the benefits of ensuring my disease is not progressing and warned me that the MRIs may be misleading about the disease progressing. I spoke to you about new symptoms of numbness in my left hand to ensure I was being forthright with everything and you looked at me and wanted to ensure I wasn’t in denial. Dr. Baskind, I live with MS every day. I know what I have and I chose to accept that I am living with this disease. When I stated that I’m not willing to take medication that could cause side effects please believe me that I’ve educated myself properly and want to try and live with this disease in the most natural, and healthiest way possible. And just because you are a vegan and therefore have natural street cred (your words) do not discount that I also have a naturopath as part of my care team. I understand that not all supplements are the same but I am constantly educating myself on brands and companies. I am choosing to treat my disease in the most holistic way possible to see if I can live this way. I will of course turn to you in the event of a serious attack but I plan on never having another one. I believe I can live with this disease. My positive power of thinking has gotten me this far and I hope I can rub off on you in the future. I’m also only going to book morning appointments with you in the future. End of day appointments (I’m learning) are just not good for anyone 🙂
So to conclude, I AM FREAKING FULLY HAPPY! I have no new lesions. I have minimal symptoms and I’m living with this disease in a way that is not slowing me down one bit. And that is something to be celebrated!