That's a good question to ask the doctor that diagnosed your ON the first time. If it is a recurrence, I would think that a neurologist would like to know about it and want to put you through the MS diagnostic testing. Considering your family history and your history of ON, it would be worth doing, if anything, for your own peace of mind.
First thing is to find out if indeed this is a recurrence of ON. Whoever you see--ophthalmologist, neurologist--should give you their two cents' worth on what to do next. If it is ON, then the cause ought to be investigated. And that's my two cents.
Becoming ill with viruses or bacterial infections won't necessarily bring on a flare. And having MS won't necessarily make an illness feel worse. When we are ill, like everyone else, we need to get plenty of rest, get plenty of fluids, and keep taking our medications as usual. No need to worry more than normal.
The pain you describe could be trigeminal neuralgia, which is a common MS symptom. Contact your doctor if you haven't already and report your symptoms. S/he will determine what is causing your pain and whether it is TN. Whatever the cause, your doc can recommend meds, etc., to manage the pain.
I've posted a response about MRI financial assistance on that titled post. Briefly I mentioned looking into the patient assistance program at the hospital.
I was low income/no insurance for several years and found charity care. I went to a privately funded charity clinic where I saw a neurologist and got free tests at the local Catholic hospital. You can call or look online at your local county Health and Human Services department for a list of resources in your area. Your phone book might list such social services as well.
Anyone is who is uninsured/under-insured and on a low income should have resources available for diagnostic testing and health care. It takes some research on your part to find it, but it is out there.
Good luck and do give us an update on what you find out.
The tightness you describe sounds like the MS hug. It is caused by nerves misfiring and causing muscles to tighten. A good way to ease the pain is with warm compresses applied to the area. You could try a heating pad or a wet compress like a towel that has been dampened and heated in the microwave.
Sorry to hear of your difficulties. If you haven't already, you need to see your doctor about the swelling, pain and breathing problems. Since you have more than one condition, your doctor needs to determine what is causing your symptoms. It could be a combination of things: your various medical conditions and side effects of the medications you are taking. Inactivity itself can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and trouble breathing. A medications review might be a good idea.
Swelling is not MS-related. I had a problem with swollen ankles and kicked it by staying on my feet more, elevating my feet for at least an hour a day, and taking hydrochlorothiazide, which is a diuretic. I no longer have a swelling problem.
I also have degenerative spine disease and most of my pain comes from that. The best thing I can do for arthritic joints is to stay active. I stretch and take a muscle relaxer for stiffness, too.
Shortness of breath can be caused by inactivity and weak core muscles. Because MS can cause swallowing and breathing problems, I do speech therapy to help strengthen those weak throat and facial muscles, which helps. Singing and doing core exercise will help with breathing, too.
I also take Tecfidera and have only had some minor prickly/flushing issues. You might take a look at a complete list of Tecfidera side effects at the website. You could look up all of your medication side effects as well and discuss these with your doctor for a medication review.
I hope you'll visit your doctor soon and get some relief. Good luck.
You could look up your local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website and drill down to the employment section to read their tips. There is a helpline to call as well.
Another source might your county health and human services department. I used that resource when I stopped FT work as an admin asst, it paid for my training to be a medical transcriptionist, though my subsequent internship proved too demanding and I didn't pursue a job.
As far as job opportunities, that's a tougher one. What do you like to do? You might want to think in terms of something you would enjoy that has value rather than putting pressure on yourself to take the burden off hubby. I know how you feel, believe me, I felt terribly guilt-ridden about no longer contributing to the household and losing my independence. We take a hit to our self-esteem for sure.
I can only tell you what I work at now and how I found it. I'm an MS patient consultant/advocate/writer. I started out here on WebMD doing research and answering patient's questions. I also wrote a blog about coping with MS. A recruiter found me here and on my blog and offered me a consultant gig. Through networking, my consultant colleagues recommended me for a job writing and moderating an MS patient support site. I was already a writer before I developed MS, so that was a skill and a strength that came in handy. I set my own hours and can write as much or as little as I want.
So I found PT work that is my interest and which has value on several levels. It supplements my SSDI income.
Also know that once you get SSDI, there is a Ticket to Work program which you can read about on the SSA.gov site. You will occasionally get a call about opportunities to do customer service at home jobs that are legit.
Cognitive dysfunction does occur among MS patients and is mild to moderate in most patients. What they are calling dementia isn't necessarily the same as what occurs in an Alzheimer's patient. The word dementia sounds scary and it conjures up some pretty extreme images. However, memory loss is very common in MS. I have it myself.
In your follow-up with the doc, you will likely discuss rehabilitation and medication. There are memory exercises you can do, for example. And as far as working, that depends on how you are managing in your present job and exploring options for other kinds of employment. My reading suggest that doing some kind of work--keeping your mind engaged and challenged--is beneficial. On a personal note, though I retired from full-time work in 2009, I now do part-time freelance work online, choose my own hours. There are options out there for you.
I hope you will let us know the results of your follow-up appointment. Good luck to you.
There is no way to know how you will recover or even whether your symptoms will go away. Every person is different, and every flare resolves differently in the same person. You might fully recover from one flare, but sustain some permanent damage from the next one.
Steroid therapy will only speed recovery, but will not effect the outcome.
That's why we take disease-modifying therapies such as the injectibles (Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, and Rebif) or infusion therapies such as Tysabri, or oral therapies such as Gilenya, Aubagio, and Tecfidera. These drugs are designed to reduce the number of flares and new lesions, reduce the severity of flares and their disabling outcomes, and slow the progress of the disease.
Time will tell regarding your numbness. It's a waiting game, unfortunately. Hope this helps.