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.
Beier M. Visiting the Sadness. JAMA. 2001;285(19):2425–2426. doi:10.1001/jama.285.19.2425
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