So, I want to tell you about the onset of a new problem I was dealing with this year. It was eventually diagnosed as compression neuropathy (in my hips). Basically, my ligaments in their looseness cause some sort of problem in my hips and impinge nerves from the base of the spine. I now lose feeling in my upper legs and up into the bum when I walk ‘long distances’ and then sit in a normal upright position.
The only relief I’ve found to prevent it from happening is to sit minimally and to spend more time slightly reclined or standing or laying down. Not cool. Whenever I think, “no, I’m sure it’s fine and I’m going to vacuum and then cook and then walk the dog…” it comes back, and despite knowing what it is, I’ll admit, it disturbs me.
My neurologist at UW explained the compression, diagnosed a little vaguely as compression neuropathy, is caused by the hypermobility in my hips and repeated stretching of the ligaments followed possibly by responding muscle spasms. She did research on case studies with EDS patients with these symptoms prior to even seeing me, and she was able to narrow down the diagnosis. What?! It’s what we all hope for in a doctor, that they’ll do their ‘due diligence.’ I almost cried when she came in and knew what Ehlers-Danlos was and familiarized herself with the secondary complications we can develop.
Anyway, I don’t notice a lot of this going on in my hips, because it’s normal for me and muscle spasms elsewhere feel more troublesome day-to-day. Plus, as I’m sure you’ll understand I start to tune-out sensations that interfere with ‘living life.’ You learn to survive this, and more than surviving, you eventually learn to live more often than survive. Or, always strive for it… every situation is different.
This troublesome, embarrassing, and potentially serious problem started in May of this year. I ignored it! (Don’t do that… 😊). In June, very ironically after a visit to the first doctor I could find after we needed to move to Washington for my husband’s job, I ended up in the ER. :sigh: My doctor was a whopping 2 hour situation to get to that morning. I drove to Bremerton from our rental in Gig Harbor, rode on a ferry for 45 minutes, sat upright in a chair for an hour waiting for said appointment at a coffee shop, then walked a mile to the doctor’s office to then repeat this going back home. Sometimes my stubborn nature startles me looking back.
On the ferry, of all places is when my legs up the inner thighs all the way into my lower back, and in-between, went completely numb. No feeling at all.
I called my doctor who told me to go straight to the ER. My husband was riding back on the ferry with me from his work in Seattle watching as I laid there unable to 1. panic, because there was nowhere to go or 2. talk, because I was shocked thinking it was the onset of something called cauda equina, an emergency that requires spinal surgery.
After many hours at the ER and imaging and a slightly freaked out looking doctor (that’s never a good sign), I was told they didn’t see evidence of cauda equina at this time. I was immensely relieved and simultaneously reserved and sad not knowing what was causing this to happen. That was that.
A sad fact, I started experiencing this problem over a year and a half ago off and on. I’d previously been admitted to an ER in Oregon with the same symptoms. This is how I knew about the possibility of cauda equina. But, then, I had been summarily dismissed after the physician couldn’t see the problem on imaging, as if that doctor’s job was confined to diagnosis by MRI lacking any clinical insight.
I’m happy I have such an intelligent and discerning doctor now. I know it will still be difficult because of the lack of awareness about EDS. I’ve continued to experience weakness in my legs and numbness, but I was told to expect it.
So, the point of my story is to illustrate you’re not alone in dealing with ‘mysterious symptoms,’ that eventually (hopefully) are figured out or perhaps work their way out through our own diligence and trial and error. Some things I deal with remain a mystery, and I’m okay with that right now, because I will keep pushing for a good team on my side when I can in-between living.
We fight too hard for good care. But, it’s important to keep fighting for good care.