A 28-year-old woman began to stumble when walking. Her right leg was slightly stiff and was weak, especially after exercise and hot showers. These symptoms developed over 3 days and gradually disappeared over 4 weeks.
She was on the college swim team before these symptoms arose. When she was 21 years old, she developed a unique and extreme type of fatigue that differed from the usual fatigue after intense swimming workouts. The extreme fatigue disappeared after several weeks, but reappeared again when she was 28 years of age. A maternal aunt had multiple sclerosis.
An MRI scan showed multiple periventricular lesions. Her spinal fluid had elevated IgG levels and 3 oligoclonal bands (normal, less than 2).
One year later, 10 days after a “cold,” she developed blurred vision in her right eye and her visual acuity dropped to 20/200. She had moderate pain behind her eye when she looked to either side. The pain and visual loss gradually disappeared over 6 weeks. Two years later, both legs gradually became weaker and spastic and she was sprinting to the washroom nearly every hour to urinate. These symptoms slowly progressed over the next 10 years, with occasional exacerbations affecting other areas of the brain. IFN-beta was begun in the middle of the relapsing and progressive phase and the frequency of attacks and rate of progression slowed. She is now walking with the help of bilateral ankle and foot orthoses. She has been aided by minor modifications of her workplace and by treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms, and she continues to work as a business executive.