Who to see and how to explain a strange turn in health?
June 4, 2007 5:55 PM   Subscribe

In recent months, I think I have experienced a significant decline in my health and I am not sure what to do. I have been exhausted hardly able to stand up straight, my tremors have become excessive, my legs even shake now and sometimes I worry about falling over, more and more I forget the simplest of words (e.g., "shirt"), and I feel befuddled and slow. I have seen a neurologist . . .

The neurologist is an expert in movement disorders, and strangely I had a good day when I went to see her, and she told me "benign essential tremor" which I knew. But I do not know what to make of the acceleration or these other odd symptoms. Even my whole arm will go numb, and the tremor extends into my core muscles. I sway when I sit, or shake violently if I even attempt a sit up. I have no desire to see a doctor and have this dismissed as a condition that seems as if it only explains a portion of what I am experiencing.

I am traveling and will not get home for another month, which is in part the reason I write to this forum. And I have questions that might be answerable here.

First, does this sound familiar to anyone? Second what sort of doctor should I see and how do I talk with them so I don't get explained away with an explanation that fails me?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
See a doctor and say what you have said here, and more if needbe. Don't assume that the doctor is going to write off what you tell him/her - it is up to you to make your concerns clear.
posted by fire&wings at 6:02 PM on June 4, 2007

These symptoms seem rather serious. If I were in your position, I wouldn't wait a month to see another doctor, I'd get home ASAP, even if it involved changing my travel plans.
posted by gnutron at 6:03 PM on June 4, 2007

Go see a GOOD doctor. Find a support group, pronto. (And that is not necessarily people who are experiencing what you are, but rather people who, well, support you. As a person.)
posted by humannaire at 6:03 PM on June 4, 2007

I know someone (female, age 30-ish) who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Some of your symptoms sound a lot like hers (fatigue/weakness, tremors, language difficulties). If at all possible, abandon the travel and get home to see a doctor. MS can be difficult to diagnose, I think. IANAD, and this is not medical advice.
posted by rtha at 6:18 PM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

My father has Parkinson's which was mis-diagnosed as MS for several years. His symptoms are similar enough to yours that I think you really should not delay in pursuing a definitive and correct diagnosis. Effective treatment if begun early enough can have a major impact on the quality and length of your life from here on out.
posted by mds35 at 7:25 PM on June 4, 2007

Maybe try a doctor at an academic medical center. But see a doctor nonetheless.
posted by ruwan at 7:25 PM on June 4, 2007

Seconding the above: see a doc ASAP, presumably a neurologist. If you don't like one, find another. Speed is important because with certain neuro conditions early treatment can potentially mitigate long-term damage. (IANAD, but have been through a significant neuro prob myself.) Good luck.
posted by Kevin S at 7:54 PM on June 4, 2007

Also recommending you seek out a good doctor wherever you are. Don't wait a month. I have a parent with MS, and swiftness is always important when dealing with potential neurological conditions or episodes.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:31 PM on June 4, 2007

Your symptoms are not incompatible with a chronic, worsening, low-grade infection and/or septicemia. I know because they sound a lot like what I experience when I suffered such an infection (in my case, dental at first) that went undiagnosed (because I was seeing the wrong doctors) for several months, and it damn near did me in by the time it was caught and treatment began. That's very serious stuff, and even more urgent than the (serious) neurological concerns you are discussing.

I am not a (medical) doctor. It's probably *not* an infection. But unless your neuorological consultation investigated this possibility, I'd recommend checking into it immediately with a blood workup for sed rate and other markers of infection. Hurry up and get to a doctor, and go home if you have to, now. Please.
posted by spitbull at 9:47 PM on June 4, 2007

I am traveling and will not get home for another month

If there is any possible way you can get home early, you should.

If you get worse, you could be stuck a long way from home and whatever resources you have there.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:00 PM on June 4, 2007

You're not on provigil or medicine for sleep disorders, are you? Several people I know have had twitching, tremors and muscle spasms while being treated for epilepsy and sleep disorders.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:56 PM on June 4, 2007

Most of the symptoms you describe aren't compatible with essential tremor, and they certainly are not benign. You either need to go back to the original neurologist or see another one. My suggestion is that you immediately abandon the idea of letting some anonymous person from the internet give you a diagnosis; the suggestions in this thread so far range from the barely-plausible to the ridiculous.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:52 AM on June 5, 2007

I have a benign essential tremor. I'm not a doctor, but I can tell you that diagnosis doesn't explain your symptoms at all...

It reminds me of Parkinsons or Huntington's but these, as with the other responses here, are wild guesses.

(Huntington's has the distinction of being absolutely diagnosable with a genetic test, so you may want to have that checked. It's unlikely unless you have relatives with similar symptoms, though.)

At any rate, you're possibly dealing with serious brain issues here. I would go home ASAP and see one neurologist after another until you find one that takes you seriously.
posted by mmoncur at 1:31 AM on June 5, 2007

Sounds like a big deal. I'd find the best doctors I could find -- at least 2 or 3 of them. Do not leave their offices until you understand what they're telling you -- doctors have a habit of rushing you out, but they're not going to force you out.
posted by callmejay at 9:31 AM on June 5, 2007

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