I had been feeling ill for a few days. I had an extreme headache, a stiff and painful neck, weakness of limbs, nausea and light sensitivity. Due to the combination of these symptoms, I was certain it was meningitis. I collapsed at work on May 25 2009 and contacted Waldo to take me to the doctor. The doctor was quite convinced as well, until the blood tests came back negative.
She booked me off for a total of 5 days, unsure of a diagnosis. The following week I went back to work, even worse than I was before. I couldn’t stay awake, I was stuttering so badly that I simply could not talk. I was jerking and shaking, I was walking into objects that I could see was there. I was utterly useless as I was completely unable to concentrate.
I phoned the doctor again and went back to see her. After contacting an Internist, she came back with a diagnosis. I had Viral Encephalitis. Completely uninformed regarding the true risks of the illness, I left her office with another sick note for 5 days. By this time, I was so weak and sleepy that I was unable to eat. It was simply too exhausting. Many of my memories from that time are non-existent, but I recall waking and feeling grubby. I dragged myself to the shower and started washing my hair. I simply could not stay upright to complete the job, so I closed the tap and collapsed on the bed, just dragging a towel over my wet body. My husband found me like that.
The fear that my family lived in those weeks is too devastating to contemplate, seeing my little girl trying to be brave will certainly never be forgotten.
The next week I was still no better and phoned the doctor, requesting a referral to a specialist. I went to see the Internist who first made the diagnosis (telephonically). He gave me one look and said I had to go to hospital. He called in a neurologist to consult on the case. After several tests and brain scans, the news was great.
I was on the mend, but I had developed a neurological disorder. This disorder, Opsoclonus Myoclonus, is, according to the little knowledge we have regarding this condition, an auto immune response which gets triggered in certain situations by some unknown reaction. I had little or no brain damage as my higher brain functions seemed to have been shut down by this disorder.
So there I was, plain old me, having been saved from potential severe brain damage by a disorder that affects one in ten million people. Wow. Is someone watching out for me or what? Living with the condition is often a nuisance, and can be embarrassing during a bad flare up, but it is such a small price to have paid. It could have been a thousand times worse. I see this not as a problem, but as a reminder that no matter what we believe, we simply cannot deny. Someone or something is out there. Picking us up when we fall, guiding us when we are lost and healing us when we are broken.