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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Total Pain In The Neck!

What would you classify as a total pain in the neck?  Itemizing deductions on your taxes?  Cleaning out rain gutters?  Finding the perfect gift for your Secret Santa pal at work?

How about Occipital Neuralgia?

Yesterday, I woke up with a pain in my neck.  Not a constant, aching headache-type of pain.  No.  This pain seemed more sinister.  It started coming in sharp waves-- feeling totally fine one minute and the next wincing from a searing and sudden pain radiating from my spinal column up to my left ear.  This continued throughout the day and on into the evening.  I was functioning normally, interacting with friends at a potluck, when suddenly I would be hit by a jab of pain so severe I would need to stop talking and even sit down.

Could I have an ear infection?  There's a chance, sure.  Could I have a vertebrae out of alignment and need a chiropractic adjustment?  Also possible.  But the thing that makes me dismiss these benign ailments and move directly into a self-diagnoses of Occipital Neuralgia is because I have M.S.

Was I always a hypochondriac?  Maybe.  But these days when anything comes up in terms of my health I seem to move automatically to worst case scenarios.  I do this for two reasons:

1) My age.
When I was initially diagnosed with M.S. (nearly nine years ago now) my doctors had little information about my form of M.S.  As the years have gone by, I have been told by my neurologist that I am at the end of the bell curve for people with M.S. and the age during the progression of the disease.  He tells me this to give me hope.  If, by the magical age of -say- 43 I am not experiencing advanced exacerbations I likely wont and can go about my life as if the M.S. is a ghost disease, present as a thin wraith within me but nothing more.

2) I worry. 
Inherent within me is my general predisposition to create large amounts of drama from empty vats of nothingness.  My ancestors have all excelled at this sort of behavior (just ask them).  We have a knack for rubbing the dry sticks of pre-fire creation and producing bonfires of narcissism.  Perhaps I am exaggerating (also a component of worry).  Couple worry with a chronic illness and there is a perfectly set stage for self-diagnoses in the form of Occipital Neuralgia.

But what is Occipital Neuralgia?  And could you also have it? 

Occipital Neuralgia is a pain that is experienced usually on one side of the back of the neck and typically radiates up to the ear.  Usual characteristics include sharp and searing pain that comes in flashes or waves.  It involves the occipital nerves and can be triggered by neck injury or lesions in the spinal column. 

Exhibit A: My largest lesion is in my spinal column, very near the base of my neck.

Exhibit B: I may be a hypochondriac.

(I hope by now you are not too alarmed.  I should note that I have written this blog entry with a slight flare of the dramatic.  See section 2 from above: I worry.)

Listen; I'm pretty sure that any ache or pain that comes across my diseased body for the next 40 years or so will cause me to panic and consult WEB MD (or whatever is current in 40 years) so that I can exercise my inherent right to dramatic flare, my penchant for all things over the top.  Or, I can make an appointment with my doc.  Rule out the severe and inflicting and maybe discover the ear ache that this thing will turn out to be.  Either way, there's never a dull moment.  Nope.  Not too many anyway.

So, I don't intend this to be negative.  Let me be clear about that.  It's more that I find wonder at myself in my ability to go to the worst case scenario.  I wonder if this is because I have M.S.  Can't I just have a pain in the neck without it being a major ailment?

Hmmm.  I wonder.

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