I was told I had MS, but it was just an allergy
Stephanie Lyons tells, Daragh Keany of the Sunday World Magazine, how a simple test changed her life for the better.
Stephanie Lyons will never forget May 16th 2006.
“I woke up feeling slightly light-headed but decided to go to work regardless. Then during the day I fainted twice before I noticed that my balance was off”, she tells SWM.
“Then when my hearing went in my left ear and my vision started to become blurry so I decided to go to the doctor”.
“He told me that I was to go home I had a bad case of vertigo and that I was to go home and rest”.
Thinking that she was over the worst, Stephanie followed that medic’s instructions and headed off for home – how wrong she was.
She says: “I woke up the next day and I couldn’t see out of my left eye and I was vomiting continuously. So I headed to hospital before being transferred to Galway to see a specialist. They thought I had a virus but they weren’t exactly sure what it was so they sent me home again. But the next day when I woke up I found myself even dizzier, still vomiting, my hearing was now completely gone in my ear and my eyesight was going in my left eye”.
“This time around they sent me for a CAT scan and two MRI scans. They kept me in hospital for over a month as they tried to figure out what was wrong with me”.
“While the vertigo medication was helping to some extent, it wasn’t doing anything for my hearing or my eyesight”.
Like anyone who is flung into a complete state of vulnerability, Stephanie started to think the worst as thoughts of MS and cancer ran through her mind.
“It was such a lonely time. I had my parents and my brothers and sister around me for but I was still lonely. Without the support of my family and friends, particularly my aunt and the staff in the hospitals, I don’t know how I would have got through this tough time.”
“I had to wear a patch over my left eye so that I could see straight and I was vomiting for nearly five weeks. I lost a huge amount of weight.”
“Then one day the doctors and nurses told me to call my mum in as they had some news. They told me that I had MS and that I had to go back to Galway because they didn’t have the specialised facilities to look after me.”
Despite the terrifying diagnosis, Stephanie finally had what she thought was closure on the emotional and physical roller coaster that she had experienced over the previous four weeks. Again, she was wrong.
“As soon as I got to Galway and saw a neurologist I was told that I didn’t have MS. While I had lesion on my brain he told me that I had to have at least 10 of them before I could be diagnosed with MS. So they kept me in for another while before my vomiting came to an end and then discharged me.”
“It was only then that I got a chance to visit the Amber Centre in Mullingar. While there I did a test that checked any allergies I might have had. It tested me for 950 potential allergies in total. It was completely pain-free and it only took 15 minutes. Four weeks later I had my full vision back and with another week or so I could hear perfectly out of both ears.”
While Stephanie is still taking medication and has appointments in hospital as well as with the Amber Centre over the coming months, she is most certainly on the mend.
“When I mentioned it to the neurologist in Galway, he told me that if it works, don’t ignore it and I think that’s the best advice.” “I think the two can work together. I certainly believe that no one should ignore the treatment. It’s painless, it’s quick, and look what it did for me.”
“Now I’m as good as back to normal and by the New Year I hope to be working full time five days a week.”
What is Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) also known as disseminated sclerosis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, leading to demyelination. Disease onset usually occurs in young adults, and it is more common in females. It has a prevalence that ranges between 2 and 150 per 100,000. MS was first described in 1868 by Jean-Martin Charcot.
MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other. Nerve cells communicate by sending electrical signals called action potentials down long fibers called axons, which are wrapped in an insulating substance called myelin. In MS, the body’s own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals. The name multiple sclerosis refers to scars (scleroses – better known as plaques or lesions) in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord, which is mainly composed of myelin.
Although much is known about the mechanisms involved in the disease process, the cause remains unknown. Theories include genetics or infections. Different environmental risk factors have also been found.
Almost any neurological symptom can appear with the disease, and often progresses to physical and cognitive disability. MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms). Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances.