I met with the neurologist. He was a very nice man. In the past, I had seen one other neurologist about two years ago when I first started having some issues with feeling fatigued, less coordinated, stumbled for words, and had very bad morning stiffness. That previous neurologist wasn’t very friendly and was dismissive after MRI, CT Scans, and other tests came back negative. Then, I had seen rheumatologists and other doctors because the stiffness and aches were interfering with my sleep – to rule out arthritic conditions (at one point a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis was suspected but ruled out).
Ultimately, I improved my joints by cutting out gluten, I thought I had finally found an answer – I had gluten intolerance! After cutting the gluten (wheat, barley, soy, etc.) my joints felt better and I didn’t have rashes or skin issues, but I continued to have stiff muscles and other symptoms (see below). One part of me was wondering if it was all in my head, but my walk, writing ability, and other things kept getting worse.
What became the “icing on the cake” was when a tremor started. I first noticed my right hand fingers twitching. I brushed it off as I have often been a “twitchy” guy, but then my thumb and first finger and eventually my whole hand would vibrate at the most inconvenient times. I was referred to a neurologist and there I was. He diagnosed me and in turn, referred me to his partner, a movement disorder specialist. The specialist neurologist had a six month wait, but he consulted with him while I was at my appointment and booked an appointment for me just three weeks away. The neurologist was going to prescribe Senimet (a L-dopa/Cardidopa medication that restores depleted dopamine to the brain), but the MDS (movement disorder specialist) had told him to prescribe me Azilect instead (an MAO inhibitor – one of those meds that you can’t take with certain cold medications and are supposed to avoid certain foods). I am not to happy with this choice of medication – but that is a story for another day.
So, what were my symptoms that resulted in diagnosis? In short, the majority were: stiff legs, stiff neck, poor sleep (difficulty turning over, frequently waking up), leg/feet cramps, shoulder locking, rigidity in my right arm, cog-wheel (ratchet-like) movements of right arm, awkward gait (limping walk with short steps), decrease in facial expressions (including decreased blinking, decreased emotions), vocal changes (not speaking loud enough, sometimes having slurred speech when fatigued), balance issues, swallowing difficulties and increase in acid reflux (this could be also related to my gluten intolerance but persisted after I cut out gluten), dexterity issues (not calibrated hand/finger movements, dropping things, and difficulty writing/typing), some executive function issues (fumbling for words, stuttering, increased difficulty multitasking) and finally tremor.