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A Piece of My Mind
May 16, 2001

Visiting the Sadness

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2001;285(19):2425-2426. doi:10.1001/jama.285.19.2425

September 1999 seemed hotter than usual. At first I blamed the increased burning sensation and weakness in my legs on the heat, but the misery persisted and at times my legs felt as if they were immersed in boiling water. Some days I walked the hospital hallways like a woman with bound feet, shuffling slowly, a parody of my old self who attempted to be in two places at once. I was so slow getting down a hallway, I missed a delivery. At times, the neuropathic pain interfered with my ability to be fully present with patients. For three years I had been denying my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, not mentioning the persistent paresthesias to my surgeon husband or to my partners. My symptoms had begun with numbness followed by intense paresthesias and intermittent weakness of both legs after a trip to Africa. At first, I couldn't bring myself to read about the disease or to get follow-up care, finding it too frightening and depressing. I planned to be one of those without progression. Until that fall, the MS hadn't slowed me down, and I never considered it would affect my lifestyle or practice of obstetrics and gynecology.

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