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Is it a stroke or ms?

By May 10, 2010 - 11:46pm
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About 6 wks ago my left eybrow dropped and my forehead went totally smooth. My eyelid was swollen and and very low. Also I had a forehead and brow headache and temple pain. I went to the eye dr thinking I had a reaction from the eye drops he gave me the week before, he thought maybe I had cellulitus and gave me Zylet drops. Went back a week later and he decided that I did not have that and suggested that if my lowered brow and lid bothered me to see a plastic surgeon. I thought what the heck, something is wrong. Then the pain was getting worse all around my left face so I went to family practice dr. I had thought maybe I had a frontal sinus infection and had started myself on a z-pac antibotic,he said yeah that is probably it and gave me nasonex to get the inflamation down and clariton due to allergy season was here. I called a week later and talked to the nurse and told her I was not feeling better and the pain was worse she gave me more antibodics. Now during this time because I am thinking I am making everything up, I was mumbling, bumping into things not thinking correctly and getting really scared as the facial disturbances were getting worse, my left side was all wrinkle free, no effect at all, my smile was gone on that side, I was drooling when I was trying to put make up on, just as an expamle. I just decided that I was losing my mind and seeing and feeling things that were not really here. I would just cry and of course my stupid left side would just drag down worse. The pain was just in my head right? I figured I was tired, so I was just walking tired and acting tired.

So then at work my boss said to me that I was really mumbling and he looked at me and my left side was really bad and I just started crying and he sent me to the urgent care. While there the doctor on call said I most likely had Bells Palsey, I thought well at least I have someone that has at least seen what I am worried about and I felt more comfortable telling him more information, my confusion, my tiredness, my fears. He also took some tests and ordered a MRI because he said some things did not make sense. During the MRI the tech called him and he wanted to see me again. Where he told me I had had a stoke and sent me to a neurologist. She showed me the MRI and I have no risk factors, I am 45 yrs old, no high BP, She is now sending me for more tests they took 17 vials of blood. She brought up MS. Is this the normal way things are supposed to go? My symtoms are not that much better.... my forehead has loosened up and my smile has moved a bit over, but the temple pain and headache is still bad, the brow is still lowered, the lid looks better some days but not good at all. I am biting my left lip all the time. My left eye dries up really bad, worse at night, and maybe the electric like shocks that go thru my finger tips are something that i should bring up next time. At what point do I know what to say? I am so confused about this whole thing. I am losing my mind. If it was a stoke how do I know a really bad one won't happen? If it's MS then why are the symtoms not relapsing? I know this is long I just was looking for some guidance.

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EmpowHER Guest

What was the final diagnosis? I could tell the same story.

March 21, 2015 - 8:19pm

Hi Again TBF-

I totally understand what you are saying. I am wondering where you live. Are you in the US? Because usually acute stroke is something you would be hospitalized for. The continuing headache could be from the stroke you had, or a symptom that something is still not right. Were you given any kind of blood-thinning drug?

I want to remind you of our stroke page: http://www.empowher.com/condition/stroke and also let you know about the American Heart Association which is an excellent source of information on stroke: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4716

Your eating disorder is a risk factor. But I'm going to be very straight with you here and say right at this moment I am not as concerned with the cause of your stroke as I am with the treatment you are receiving. A person can have more than one stroke. You are confused and it is not entirely known what happened to you but you are still walking around at risk? I'm concerned that your provider is not treating you aggressively to be sure you don't have more damage.

Stroke is, in a way, like having a head trauma. Your body doesn't really know the difference between being whacked in the head and having a stroke. So what happens is you have the clot, which is now like a little dead spot. Around that area it will be very irritated and unhappy. You may have some fluid buildup in those tissues. It will be inflamed. Your body rushes blood and cells to the area to try and clean up and deal with the clot. In your head, there is no room for this extra stuff. So it can put more pressure on your brain.

Headache can be from the stroke, and you may have one on and off for a while. Your face issues like biting your lip may resolve, or they may not. Usually you would be sent to physically therapy as soon as possible to deal with those symptoms. Not just to help you avoid biting your lip, but to work your brain as quickly as possible to rebuild the pathways or build new pathways to be responsible for working the body parts damaged by the stroke. Your brain can be retrained to do many things that get lost in an injury such as stroke, but it is hard work and is usually started very soon after.

That confusion is probably going to be around for a while, too. It's probably related to the stroke. My concern is whether your neurologist is a stroke expert, whether you are being treated aggressively to prevent another stroke and to prevent further complications from this stroke. The cause needs to be determined to prevent it from happening again, but there are things to be done now while that is being worked out.

You will probably be angry and scared for a while. You may go through a grieving process. That is totally normal. Try to focus on the future if you can, focus on what do I need to do to get function back or retain function and what do I do to prevent another stroke.

Please keep us posted. Hang in there. It's hard, but you can get through this.

May 13, 2010 - 7:02am


I'm so sorry you are going through this, because I know how scary it is. Bell's Palsy does describe some of your symptoms, but not all of them, for instance confusion and finger numbness. The thing about Bell's Palsy, though, is it can be cause by some sort of virus and that could account for symptoms that don't fall in with Bell's Palsy. It can be tricky, so it's good that you are seeing a neurologist. Here's the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and stroke fact sheet on Bell's Palsy: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/detail_bells.htm

I'm a little confused as to what the MRI said. Did it show a stroke? There are other risk factors for stroke besides high blood pressure. Hypertension can cause hemorrhagic strokes, especially in younger people, but clots cause the majority of strokes and you don't necessarily need to have hypertension to throw a clot. There are a lot of other things, like arrhythmias, smoking, birth control pills, family history, or even a fall where you hit your head that can contribute to clots. Here is the page from NINDS on stroke: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/stroke.htm

Did the MRI show multiple sclerosis? It is often diagnosed by a brain MRI along with symptoms. There are several kinds of MS. Some are relapsing-remitting, or progressive. It usually takes a while to figure out which you have, and it often comes on more subtly than what you are describing. The NINDS page on MS: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/multiple_sclerosis.htm

The nice thing about the NINDS site, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is that at the bottom of the pages are lists of other resources.

What is the plan now? Are you to wait for the blood work to come back? Have they given you any medication or started you in any physical therapy? Have they done any other kind of nerve testing?

I thank you for writing, and I hope you will let us know what happens. No matter the cause of your problems, I suggest you ask what you can do as far as exercises or therapy to help yourself. I have a chronic health problem, too, and one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to remain as active as possible to maintain function. So there may be little finger exercises or face exercises you can do to help remind those nerves of their jobs.

Good luck to you and please stay in touch.

May 12, 2010 - 6:54am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Cary Cook BSN RN)

Oh thankyou for responding. The 1st MRI showed an acute stroke. When she showed it to me it looked like a quarter size cloud. She guided me through it by saying see the bright white. Now I could have the size off because I don't dare know really. While we were looking at she said it was very close to the brain to someone on the phone. She then said she wants to rule out MS. I haven't hit my head. I don't have high b/p, high cholestral, no diabetes, I did smoke for approx 3 yrs after a very stressful divorce but quit about 1.5 months or so. She just said I am so young to have this show up like this. No birth control I had a hystrectomy at 38. There might be a 2nd cousin that had a stoke but a little older. I might add though I did have a serious eating disorder for near 30 yrs. I was very anorexic and binging and restricing / bulmia/ I gained alot quickly about 1 yr ago, then tapered off, now gained again. I am now about 50 -+ lbs heavier from my lowest. Yes this has caused much distress as I hate this fact. So I wonder could fat be the problem even though Im told I am not, but healthier. Than how did this happen? Anyway today I had a MRI of the spine, a MRA of the brain, an Echo, and I think another MRI of the brain? I have an appt on Tues because I called up the Doctor and said I am just confused and need to have her explain everything again. My brain is just not retaining everything. So I am going to write down some concerns for that appt. She will go over the blood work, and new tests. To my knowledge it did not show MS but she said the MRI of the spine would show activity from that? All I really know is she showed me a white cloud in my MRI through it she looked at layers as she moved the film(on the computer) and she was consulting w/ someone on the phone and mentioned the MS and I heard him say no he was sure it was an acute stroke? So I really am glad for your information and reply it makes me feel good to have someone to bounce this off to. She gave me a perscription for isometh/apap/dichlor for the headache and temple pain but I think I had a reaction because I itched all night. The forehead and temple head ache never go away they get worse at times. I have been massaging my forehead and left side trying to get it loosen up. I bite my left lower lip all the time. I don't mean to complain but if I had a concrete answer I think I would calm down. It's been alot to take in but I dont have 1 thing to blame yet. Does that make sense?

May 12, 2010 - 11:09pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Sorry that was To Be Free replying I didn't sign in.

May 12, 2010 - 11:12pm
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