Nolan had been living with unexplained exhaustion for years before their health flare-up kicked into high gear. Suddenly they were experiencing seizures, weakness, gait issues and vocal/motor ticks. When seeking answers from doctors they were often brushed off, having the reality of their symptoms denied when answers were not immediately apparent. It wasn’t until they switched hospitals to seek care at the University of Washington Medical Center that they were finally taken seriously, eventually being diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND).
In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Nolan shares their health journey with FND. This is a new diagnosis applied to patients who experience neurological symptoms when no structural issue can be found. Nolan likens it to a software problem, as opposed to a hardware issue like lesions or tumors that would be visible on an MRI. For Nolan, finding a diagnosis has been a life changing event. They finally have doctors that take them seriously, and several treatment options to pursue. They discuss their comorbidities of gastroparesis and urinary retention, as well as their history of physical, emotional and medical trauma that may contribute to the onset of FND. Nolan also discusses the changing understanding of FND, having once been referred to as conversion disorder before recent advances have progressed the understanding of this complicated disease.