Today is my 23rd birthday.
I know God has a plan for me, but I feel so overwhelmed. There are all these unknowns and unfinished pieces spinning around me that just won’t come to a rest.
It has been a while since I posted an update because I was waiting to have some more answers. We don’t know why or what is going on with my body, but my baseline is lower than it was. I am still going to physical therapy and I am getting weekly infusions, which I think has been helping. The infusions are designed to keep my head pain and nausea from escalating. They also help improve my sleep and increase my appetite, I often don’t feel hungry because of constant low level nausea.
Last month, I went to the ER because I had a weird episode. I was out with my mom and I started to get what felt like a migraine. It began with head pain, chills, nausea, and then I felt like I had gone to the eye doctor and had my eyes dilated. I was texting with a friend and started to get very confused. It felt like words were not real and I could not remember my friend’s name. I knew her name, but it didn’t feel like it was a word. My mom said that my speech was altered, and my words were breaking in the middle, kind of like broken glass. Then it progressed quickly to where I could not speak at all. The confusion and inability to talk only lasted a few minutes and most of my symptoms passed in about an hour and a half.
I went home, took some of my rescue meds and went to bed. I wanted to try and sleep it off before I went to the hospital. The ER is not always friendly, so I was trying to avoid that. I called my doctor the next day and he sent me to the ER to get an MRI and an EKG. Everything came back with normal results, and they gave me two rounds of a migraine cocktail to break the headache. It didn’t break completely but it was enough for me to go home. The ER doctor asked me if I have ever been diagnosed with Epilepsy or have a history of seizures, which has never come up before.
When I called my neurosurgeon’s office about that episode, they recommended that I be monitored for seizures. My primary care doctor agreed and said that he could order the monitoring, but that he thought it would be better to have a neurologist order it because of all the nuances. The problem is that there is a neurologist shortage and I have not been able to get in with one who understands (is comfortable treating someone with) Chiari Malformation. In the last couple of months my local neurologist retired and recommended replacement is moving The doctor he suggested is even not calling to schedule appointments for two months and they are scheduling appointments for December/January. It’s very frustrating. Much of the difficulties I’m encountering are systemic. Overwhelmed systems, lots of job shifting, and overall staffing shortages, along with an uncommon condition.
My case was up for review with the Mayo Clinic a few months ago. It was a process to collect all my MRIs and all the notes from every doctor’s appointment from the last two years. My doctor had to write a one-page letter stating why he thought I should be seen at the Mayo. It was submitted on a Friday and the following Monday I received a rejection email from the department of neurosurgery telling me to seek local medical care. The problem with that is my case was supposed to go to the neurology department not neurosurgery and I have already exhausted the specialists here.
We called Mayo and explained that I already had neurosurgery and needed to see a neurologist not a neurosurgeon. If I needed neurosurgery I would just go back to Colorado. The Mayo said they would resubmit it and that once it was reviewed, they would decide if there was another department that would be better equipped to treat me. They said they would call us in three days.
Two days ago, I received another rejection letter in the mail for neurosurgery. Which I was already suspecting because they never called back. It was so frustrating because we had been discussing with them that it was not supposed to go to neurosurgery. We called them today and explained that we were worried that the right team of people had not reviewed it because of it being sent to the wrong department. They told us that Chiari Malformation goes to neurosurgery and since I already had surgery it was not a fit. They said that once it was moved out of neurosurgery there were two neurologists that reviewed my case and denied it.
The Mayo Clinic said that I should have my doctor diagnose me with whatever he thinks is happening with me and then he writes them a new letter with his recommended treatment plan and his desired outcome. If my doctor knew what was happening with me, he would treat me here. We need help with the diagnosis.
So, we got off the phone with the Mayo Clinic and called the Barrows Neurological Institute, in Arizona. They were also recommended to me by my neurosurgeon’s office. They told us that they are a sub clinic, which means they treat conditions they do not diagnose and based on what I said I would probably need to be seen in at least six of their sub clinics. I could probably get in for the Chiari Malformation/Migraine clinic, but they would only treat that symptom. They could refer me to another one of their sub clinics, but they would not diagnose anything or look for a greater cause.
I am meeting with my doctor on Tuesday to update him and hopefully come up with a new plan. I agree that I should be monitored by a neurologist for seizure activity. We are considering reaching out to neurologists all over Oregon to try to find one. I am an established patient at OHSU, but I lost confidence with them after the neurologist there so casually misdiagnosed me with developing ALS and told me he would only discuss two of my symptoms and not an underlying cause. I am considering requesting a transfer of care and trying a new neurologist there.
Please pray with me that God will give us guidance and show us the way.
Pray for my appointment on Tuesday, for my doctor to have wisdom.
Pray that I would be able to get in with a neurologist.
Please pray for my family, this is putting so much stress on everyone, and we are all feeling weary and discouraged.
Grace to you,