Monday, March 29, 2010

Prelude to MS/Depression awareness

How does one live with Multiple Sclerosis? I did not always have this condition. Once I was an aspiring forester doing everything from 3 meter knockdown, slashing, thinning, road, cut block layout, Bug Kill (Mountain Pine Beetle "crash and burn" project) and Forest Firefighting. This was all done in the Ft st James Forest district (BCFS-FD5) in the 1980's. At the same time I was part of the Canadian Armed Force (Reserves- Cadet Instructor Cadre). I temporary moved to Lac La Biche, Alberta in 1987-88 where I attended Forestry school in the Alberta Vocational Center there.

I could feel myself growing older and decided to take life a bit slower starting in the early 90's. I took a job in a gas station in Vanderhoof BC in the mid 90's and held it for a few years. I also became common law married while employed there.

I moved to Prince George BC in 1995 and began working in London Drugs as a computer technician in 1997. In 1998, my common law wife decided the grass was greener without me and put most of my belongings on the curb. It was raining and vertigo (*extreme bouts of dizziness)was running my life. I quickly found another place to live, rain and me did not get along. Sleep took care of the vertigo. About a week later my I woke up and walked into a wall. I discovered that I could not see out of one of my eyes.

In a Panic I raced down to the eye doctor just down the block. He could find nothing wrong so he sent me to a specialist. After Hmmming and Humming for about 20 minutes she informed me I had no medical insurance. She also told me about the ramifications of being without medical insurance in the province of British Columbia while she handed me a bill for $189.98 for her 20 minute exam. The exam was "inconclusive".

I do not remember if she called it Optic Neuritis (ON) which would not have meant anything to me if she had. I know know that ON is a symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. In fact, up to 50% of patients with MS will develop an episode of optic neuritis, and 20-30% of the time, optic neuritis is the presenting sign of MS.

After obtaining BC Medical Services Plan coverage, I consulted a few specialists and my GP who all shrugged their shoulders and "blamed the other guy". I finally connected with a Neurologist who scheduled me into an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). In Prince George prior to 2005 we were served MRI's in a mobile unit which traveled Northern Health's vast area to get everyone who needed one tested. A person normally waited 9 months for the exam. I was 5 minutes late for it and had to reschedule.

In February of 2000 my father took ill and was constantly transported to the Prince George Regional Hospital from Fort St James. He did not have long to live. In June of 2000 I managed to see the Neurologist again who disclosed that I had all the markers for Multiple Sclerosis and that would be a label I would wear for (*Possibly) the rest of my life. I thanked him and walked out. In July my dad passed away and I felt alone and helpless. I still had a job to do, a life to live, an Ex wife to hide from as depression filled my world.

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