…and the not so good part?
Well, about 6 weeks before my Pernicious Anaemia diagnosis, I started experiencing numbness and tingling, like pins and needles but not quite that, in my finger tips. As it was only in my left hand initially I (stupidly!) put this down to excessive guitar playing. That’s really quite terrible terminology because as any musician knows there is, of course, No Such Thing as ‘excessive’ guitar playing! Pfft!
Anywho… despite finding it really strange I actually just ignored it for a couple of weeks. Until it spread to my other hand. Actually, I would have probably ignored this too if it hadn’t been for the horrendous neck and back ‘clicking’ that I’d been experiencing for a number of months as well as the interference with guitar practice. Now, I don’t go rushing off to the doc’s for the slightest ache and pain (childbirth with no pain relief gives me a pretty high threshold for deciding whats painful and whats not!) but when there are multiple symptoms cropping up then I want to know what’s going on!
I went to my (excellent by the way – I’m very fortunate!) doctor and explained my concerns. The excessive tiredness alone is what he seemed to be most concerned about. He booked me in with the nurse to have my blood tested for, well just about everything. I used to work in Immunology within the Pathology department of NHS hospitals and occasionally spent time in Haematology and Biochemistry too so I was satisfied that this was a thorough list of testing! However he spotted my expression and asked if there was anything else concerning me. So I said ‘well, yes. You haven’t mentioned the tingling in my hands’ (which was after all why I was there!). However he didn’t seem concerned at all and said we’d look into that following my blood test results. So, fine! Who am I to argue? I went away a lot less worried and just got on with work.
Work was turning into a nightmare by the way. I work as a Laboratory Manager (immunological and genetic analysis – I won’t bore you) but it’s a very hands on role. Y’know, pipetting and stuff. My confidence started to ebb away very quickly over a period of about 6 weeks, probably from around the same time as the tingling started. This was down to a combination of things but mostly: forgetting simple names or jobs due out, making errors due to inability to concentration (I HATE making mistakes), and clumsiness. I was desperately trying to hide all of these symptoms, putting it down to tiredness but secretly questioning what on earth was wrong with me?
So a few days after my blood tests the results are in and, as you may have already seen (in Pernicious Anaemia – part 1… ahem!) I had low B12 and following further tests Autoimmune PA was diagnosed. This did not explain the tingling however and I was once again sent home to see if it would just disappear. It didn’t. It got worse, much worse.
The tingling spread to my upper arms and back and by now was really concerning me, particularly as my back was affected and this was clearly something to do with my nerves. You don’t spend 4 yrs on a Biomedical Science degree without learning a thing or three about the Central Nervous System!
So I went back to the doctor. Actually I was sent there by my colleague JT in the middle of the work day as the strange sensation had me in tears and he was very worried. I made an emergency appointment and went into the surgery (still crying!) telling my doctor something was just not right. He checked me over with Babinski’s test - which I passed and then….get this….went on Wikipedia (I love Wiki!) to try and work out why I was having this strange symptom which to him could only have been one thing. There it was in black and white, the Lhermitte’s sign that he thought I was describing was also associated with B12 deficiency! News to both of us!