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mrteacherdude

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Hi, friends! I am writing here to allay some of my fears--I am 30 year old English teacher, who, two years ago, began to be concerned that he might have ALS. It started, honestly, rather benignly with a few twitches, and what I perceived to be "weakness." I say "weakness," because two years later, and the symptoms have not worsened, plus they have moved around, from the left side to the right side, from the arms to the legs.

Initially, I sought chiropractic help because I was concerned that I had a pinched nerve. Of course, the chiropractor's physical exam (from which he concluded that I had no muscle weakness) did nothing to alleviate any of my fears.

So, I then went to a physical therapist who did several strength tests. Again, these were neglible; nothing definite was shown. Initially, he thought my right hand to be weaker than my left (which of course sent me into outer orbit, as I am right handed and assumed my right hand to be stronger), but after manipulation and a second test, my strength in my right hand was virtually equal to the left.

At that point, after more than two months of prolonged and intense anxiety, I developed tongue twitches (Additionally, I have developed virtually every symptom about which I have read--I read about atrophy, I am sure I have it--I read about thenar prominence, I am sure I can see it).

This prompted me to see my family doctor, who, once again, assured me that he was 99% certain that I did not have ALS. He did several strength tests and reflex tests. Nevertheless, knowing me and my inability to let go of anxiety, he referred me to our local ALS specialist, who spent the first 15 years of her career working at the ALS clinic in Denver. Plus, she specializes in all sorts of motor-neuron diseases.

My initial visit with her was extremely reassuring. In fact, she told me after being with me only five minutes that I did not have ALS. She, though, put me through a battery of tests, more for my peace of mind than hers, I am sure: Strength tests, examination of my tongue for fascilations, and various walking and reflex exercises. At the end of the meeting, she reassured me that I did not have ALS. But, she concluded, that if I wasn't sure, she would do an EMG.

Three months later, after further persistence of my symptoms, I elected to have the EMG. She did the shock EMG (for lack of any better terminology) and the needle EMG. She literally tested every muscle on my right side twice. And she did the needle EMG on my tongue, she said I was so worried about it. Of course, all of the results were perfect. In fact, she said they were above normal. This did give me some peace of mind.

However, by the next January, I was back in the office, needing to see her again, after being convinced that my right hand had atrophy and my tongue twitches were intesifying. At that meeting, she again walked me through several strength tests, concluding that there was absolutely no weakness on either side of my body. She also addressed my desire to have a second EMG--she said that she could understand my wanting that, if my first test had been abnormal. However, she said that, since the first one was so clean, there was no need for a second, or third, or fourth, like some of the worry warts on here have. Plus, I should mention that my tongue twitches have been gone now since virtually last August.

I saw her again this last February, and, once more she concluded that I was perfectly health. She did more strength tests and found me to be perfectly fine. Yet, here I sit three months later, obsessing over the perceived atrophy in my right hand. Never mind you that I can still write and type (although I perceive that my hand fatigues more easily than my left) and ride the exercise bike vigorously for six miles every day. I also do 200 crunches, and lift light weights. Again, I have noticed no difficulty there. Although, I constantly fear weakness in both my right arm and leg. My newest concern is that my right leg doesn't pump hard enough when I am riding the bike.

I already know that I have problems with hypochonrida, obsession and compulsion, and anxiety. In fact, my ALS specialist put me on Zoloft to combat my anxiety. And it has seemed to help quite a bit. Although, I do fall prey to fears still.

I've gone ahead and attached some pictures of my hand. I still feel like the muscle on the top of my hand in between my thumb and pointer finger on the right side is smaller than the one on the left. I have even gone so far as to measure them or have my family members examine their sizes. They have all concluded that I am nuts and that the right looks bigger. :razz:That the dents and divets and realtive size of both is just a product of musculature, not ALS.

I am just looking for some feedback and reassurance. I know that I need to trust the specialist. After all, she is a specialist for God's sake. And what am I? A high school English teacher who knows NOTHING about motor-neuron disease.https://www.alsforums.com//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/
 

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Nikki J

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I am sorry you are so tortured. I can not see any rational reason for you to worry. You state you know you have obsessive tendencies anxiety and hypochondria It is a known fact that these conditions do not respond to reassurance. You state that your neuro is qualified and thorough if you do not believe her the reassurances here will not help either. For the record, no you do not describe ALS at all.

Please seek psychiatric help for your admitted issues. You should ask for CBT- that seems to be the helpful modality for this. It will take time energy and patience. Best to start immediately so you do not waste any more of your long and otherwise healthy life
 
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Atsugi

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Dude, Nikki's opinion and advice are the best you'll find anywhere in the world. I'm chiming in for two reasons. First, I know that your type of mental health problem is a powerful and insidious life wrecker. Second, you probably want more than a few replies.

You don't have ALS and you never will. The odds of you getting ALS are the same as any average healthy person you might meet on the street. Near zippo. So don't give it another thought.

With respect, sir, that mental problem you have will waste your life away if you don't get a solid handle on it.

Good luck. (And it was a pleasure reading a post that was well-written. Thanks.)
 

lgelb

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Nikki and Mike are dead on. 30 is so young to waste years watching your thumb instead of enjoying your family, career and friends. I suspect also that you have not been fully honest with your family about the depth of your obsession. Bring them into the picture so they can support you in a serious health issue.

It may take time to find the right therapist and a hassle to slog through the insurance aspects, but this time and hassle will pay off richly, I've no doubt.

Best,
Laurie
 

GilWest

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I'll post a picture of my Mom's hands. That should truly reassure you that you are OK, fine, the picture of health, etc...
I could also post a copy of her EMG that actually had the letters ALS, while the word "normal" (or above normal) was nowhere to be seen.
 

KimT

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Your hands look fine to me. You do NOT have ALS. Please get help for your anxiety because it can consume you and you're way too young to waste your life worrying about something you will never get.
 
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