People with serious illnesses need specialist medical care. That may be stating the obvious but my experience leads me to believe that it is not always true.
I received my diagnosis of having multiple sclerosis in 2002 in the UK and began by seeing a neurologist every six months. However, after just a couple of appointments, I was referred to an MS Specialist Nurse. At that time, the neurologist said that if I needed to see him again, the nurse would arrange it.
Sadly, that tuned out to not be the case. When I did ask my MS Nurse to arrange for me to see a neurologist, the nurse asked me why. He said I used to have relapsing MS and now had secondary progressive, there was no treatment, so he saw no point in me seeing a neurologist.
Since moving to Spain, two years ago today, seeing a neurologist has not been on top of my ‘to do’ list. Six weeks ago, though, I mentioned to my GP that I’d like to see one – and received an immediate referral.
Neurologist specialising in MS
Following an initial meeting on October 30, yesterday I had my first session with a consultant neurologist specialising in MS. This took place in Hospital Torrecárdenas, in the city of Almería.
There, in addition to my medical history, Dr Carmen Muñoz had the results of last week’s MRI scan and blood tests. And, on top of that, I was able to provide her with the MRI scans and full medical report produced by Dr Denis Fedorenko when I spent a few days at the HSCT centre in Moscow during October last year.
Regular readers may remember that, last year, Dr F told me that my lesions were inactive and that I was vitamin D deficient. From that point, I began taking a vitamin B supplement every day.
Yesterday, Dr Muñoz compared the new scans with last year’s. The good news is that there is no change. Not the same as far as vitamin deficiency, though.
True, the vitamin D level has improved slightly but it is still deficient. Added to that, now I am deficient in vitamin B12 too. So, from tomorrow, my vitamin D supplement dose increases significantly – and I also begin to take a B12 supplement.
Vitamins and deficiency
I decided to look at what deficiencies of the vitamins means.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These are essential to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by osteomalacia, a softening of the bones, in adults.
Vitamin B12 has a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and DNA, as well as the functioning of your nervous system.
The effects of vitamin B12 deficiency can include: pale or jaundiced skin; weakness and fatigue; sensations of pins and needles; mobility problems; mouth ulcers and inflamed tongue; breathlessness abd dizziness; disturbed vision; mood changes; and, rarely, a high temperature.
Of course, many of these are common in MS regardless of any issues with vitamin B12.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.