Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yet Another Bizarre New Symptom

Just when I thought my body couldn't surprise me with anything new, I developed Bizarre Symptom #387.

I was on my way to my weekly acupuncture appointment Wednesday, after dropping off some paperwork at one of the schools we've applied to for Ellie, when I felt a wave of intense fatigue hit me. That's not all that unusual, although it was more intense and more out of no where than I usually feel. Immediately after the wave of fatigue, I started having intense prickling on the left side of my face. The muscles in my face also started feeling weird.

The best way I can explain how my face felt is that is was like the sensation of novocaine for dental work. My face wasn't totally numb, like right after the injection kicks in, but more like it feels when the novocaine is partly worn off, when your lip and face feels kind of rubbery, when there's some sensation, but it all just feels weird.

I went ahead and went to acupuncture, feeling mildly panicky over yet another bizarre and scary new symptom. Can I just say I'm a little tired of developing bizarre new symptoms?

My acupuncturist made me promise to call a doctor as soon as I got home. Actually, she strongly recommended I call my doctor right then and there, or consider going to the ER. But it wasn't getting worse or spreading, and it didn't seem to life-threatening, so I went ahead and got a quick acupuncture treatment and went home.

I don't have confidence in either of the two neurologists I've seen, so I put a call into my internist. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for us to connect, and after a brief chat with a triage nurse (who also thought I should go to the ER), I waited until my previously scheduled followup appointment with my internist Thursday afternoon. Don't get me wrong -- if anything had gotten worse, I would have gone to the ER.

My internist did a neurological exam on me, and said that the left side of my face did seem "weaker" than my right. I'm also noticeably weaker in my left leg and left arm than my right side, but those can be attributed to my back and shoulder problems. She says it's not Bell's Palsy because I can still move the left side of my face and it's not all droopy. (Ok, she used more proper medical terms, but that's the gist.)

It's been a few weeks shy of a year since my last brain MRI, so I guess I'm going to have another one, my third, as soon as my insurance company approves it. She also is ordering a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) to look at whether I have vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels, in my head/face. Other possibilities she mentioned include a strange kind of migraine (probably the best of things she mentioned), multiple sclerosis, mini stroke, and probably a bunch of other diagnoses.

She says that if the brain MRI and MRA come back normal, she's going to order a spinal MRI to see if something is happening there that's causing these weird symptoms.

Oh, which I guess means I should mention Bizarre New Symptom #386, which started a couple days ago. And it's very, very bizarre.

I essentially feel at odd times like I've lost control of my bladder. I get a sensation of heat that flows from my, well, crotch to about halfway down the inside of my left thigh.

The first few times it happened, I truly panicked and feared I'd wet myself. But no, my pants and underwear were totally dry. (Thank goodness -- I'm not really sure how I'd explain adult incontinence to my 5-year-old who sometimes still thinks there are better things to do with her time than visit the bathroom.)

My internist says it's most likely related to the nerve compression in my low back that causes my sciatica, but she agreed it was definitely bizarre. And because both my new symptoms are on my left side, it's possible that they are somehow related.

Between next week's endoscopy and colonoscopy and the MRI & MRA in the near future, I'm hoping that maybe some answers are just around the corner.

p.s. Happy birthday, Dad!


Stephanie Jewett, RN, MBA said...

Those are bizarre symptoms - I just happened to stmble onto your site - very good by the way - have they ever given you a diagnosis other than autoimmune? Stephanie

Aviva said...

Hi Stephanie -- I'm happy you stumbled onto me however it occurred. :-) I don't have a definite overall diagnosis. My docs have considered, and not ruled out, everything ranging from Multiple Sclerosis to Lupus. But I seem to be difficult to get a definite diagnosis for.

I do have a collection of secondary diagnoses, which I've listed at

If you've got any suggestions, my internist is always happy to hear theories. :-)

Jeanne said...


I have zero clue what is happening with your face and this may be way irrelevant but I'll throw it out there just in case. Endochick has something called trigeminal neuralgia and it affects her face. I have no clue if it compares to what you're describing or not but I just thought I'd mention it. I'll mention your symptoms to her in case she has any thoughts. Obviously your doctor(s) need to be the ones to give it a diagnosis but I couldn't help but think of her TN when I read your post.


Anonymous said...


I was directed here by a friend - Jeanne. I believe I've read your blog before, though.

Has your neurologist or intern every checked you for migraines? You sound like me, I get scanned about every 6 months to a year for multiple sclerosis "just to be safe."

I have trigeminal neuralgia, but that causes brief INTENSE pain. And not usually numbness. I have numbness with mine - more so before physical therapy - but that was because of the progression of the disorder. IE, it shouldn't present like that, I believe.

I'm not a doctor, though, so please check with them. But, in the meantime, you may be interested in checking out the following post on my blog where I describe the migraines I have - basilar artery migraines.

Aviva said...

Hi Endochick! Thanks for popping in (and thanks to Jeanne for asking you to!)! I'm pretty sure that I don't have TN, which I've heard is extreme facial pain. For me it's just the pricklies, and a loss of sensation. I'm not totally numb, it's just less sensitive on the left side of my face. If that makes any sense. :-)

I was diagnosed with migraines when I was 11 or 12. (It was sixth grade, but can't remember if it was before or after my birthday.) But they were the more typical type. I have mixed feelings on the way neurologists like to blame so much on migraines. It just seems like their fallback diagnosis when they don't know what is going on. Sort of the way some rheumatologists use fibromyalgia as a catchall for anything they can't figure out. (Don't get me wrong -- I completely believe that fibromyalgia is a real diagnosis; I just don't believe that all rheumies are correct when they diagnose someone with it.)

I'm off to go read your post about migraines... :-)