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How a Second Opinion Saved Me from a Brain MRI Misdiagnosis

During her last pregnancy, Jennifer became severely ill with a multitude of debilitating symptoms.

After being dismissed by many doctors, she reached out to DocPanel for a second opinion on her MRI scans. The results were life-changing. Here is her story:

I’ve been a paramedic for almost 15 years and was never one to slow down or stop. However, during my 6th and last pregnancy, I became deathly ill. I lost 30 pounds, I got a GI virus three times and two very nasty colds, with the final one resulting in pneumonia. The skin around my fingernails starting peeling off and I had ulcers on my finger pads. My OBGYN reduced my hours at work and eventually took me out completely. Despite dedicating all my time to rest, my health did not improve and I spent the remainder of my pregnancy sick in bed.

DocPanel is committed to making sure every patient receives excellent care. If you would like an expert second opinion on your medical imaging, you can learn more here.

Before falling ill, I started having issues with my bladder and strange sensations in my body. This was accompanied by overwhelming fatigue. I felt like I was dying. I knew that I had an autoimmune disease, but no one seemed to believe me, except for my primary care doctor.

My mother has Multiple Sclerosis and there is a strong family history on my maternal side of autoimmune disease. I knew that I too was suffering from what had to be an autoimmune disease. Why didn’t anyone else believe me?

My labor was complicated. I become profoundly hypotensive and needed blood transfusions and vasopressors (blood pressure support). Thankfully, my son, Jeremiah, was born safely and remains healthy to this day. Not long after I gave birth, I had to have surgery to correct a severe pelvic organ prolapse. My surgery didn’t go well and I needed blood transfusions once again. What little bladder function I had was completely lost after surgery. My bladder dysfunction was, and is, very distressing to me. I am only 33 years old. My mother has Multiple Sclerosis and there is a strong family history on my maternal side of autoimmune disease. I knew that I too was suffering from what had to be an autoimmune disease. Why didn’t anyone else believe me?

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My hair starting falling out, my skin became dry and my once very petite frame was now hefty. I had never been overweight and have always prided myself on being physically fit. But at this point - nothing could make me lose weight. With my bladder on the fritz and my family’s medical history, I asked my OBGYN if he’d screen me for Multiple Sclerosis and also check my thyroid. I was absolutely convinced that I had MS and Hashimoto’s Disease. However, my MRI came back ‘normal’ and he told me my thyroid was fine. I couldn’t accept this. I could feel my thyroid. I have goiter! So I went to my primary care doctor, who insisted that I be screened again and see an MS specialist.

The MS specialist repeated the MRIs, said they were normal, and told me to see a mental health professional for possible Functional Neurological Disorder. I was flabbergasted. I mourned this response for weeks. I was devastated. I knew something was wrong with my body so I made an appointment with my primary doctor again and they told me that there was no way this was psychological and that I needed a second opinion on my MRIs. This led me to DocPanel. DocPanel saved my life. LITERALLY.

A very gifted neuro-radiologist, Dr. David Wiener, reviewed my MRI’s. He found a small grey matter lesion and multiple white matter lesions. Basically, my MRIs were not normal. Armed with that information I scheduled an appointment with an amazing neurologist, who listened to me. They did the FULL thyroid panel and found out that I was profoundly hypothyroid because of end-stage Hashimoto’s Disease. At that point, my condition was quite severe. I was unable to get out of bed for more than about an hour at a time. I was a prisoner to fatigue. The doctors told me that I was not going to be around much longer if I didn’t get some thyroid hormone in my system.

My new wonderful neurologist sent me to an MS specialist who will continue to follow me for the rest of my life. I have symptoms of MS and some concerning areas in my brain, but I don’t meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis. Instead, I have been diagnosed with probable MS. I feel relieved that someone is finally hearing me. That they believe me that I’m sick and are actually helping me get better. My hair is growing back. My skin is soft again. My waist a little smaller. But the best gift so far has been the liberation from my bed. I’m enjoying my children again and taking walks with my husband. I’m still tired. I don’t feel well often, but I’m I am better. And now, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

DocPanel gave me ammunition. Had they not armed me with a better interpretation of my MRIs, I would have ended up in the hospital dying from hypothyroidism.

To anyone who feels that something is not right with your body - continue seeking answers and never, never give up. The first MS doctor that I saw trusted random radiology reports instead of actually looking at my MRIs. I learned to trust myself. I knew that I was sick. DocPanel gave me peace of mind with a better interpretation of my MRIs.

I almost gave up. DocPanel gave me a glimmer of hope. My bladder will never be normal. And I may never hop on an ambulance again feeling the rush of saving a life run through me. But what I do have is precious time with those I love. That’s what autoimmune disease was stealing from me and that’s what DocPanel gave back to me. Sometimes, when you’re sick, you’re always going to be sick - but you should not have to suffer because you don’t have an accurate diagnosis. I’ll need certain medications for the rest of my life, but those medications make baking cookies and movie nights possible. DocPanel made that possible.

To learn more about getting a second opinion, check out our step-by-guide to having an expert subspeciality radiologist review your, or a loved one's, medical imaging.