I am new to these forums although not new to MS. I have the most typical textbook case in the world. However, I remember the fear of not knowing, the frusteration at trying to get appointments, the terror of never regaining my faculties ever again. I had no health insurance and fought like hell to get on Medicaid in order to get the bank account breaking MS meds. I realize that is why most people search out these boards, and since I have insomnia tonight I thought I'd address some of these concerns.
First the bad news...for those experiencing their first bout of numbness, tingling, balance issues, optic neuritis...etc etc The reason that no one is rushing you in to an appointment is that there really isn't much to be done. Yes, if you had dx'd MS they'd put you on cortiocosteroids to try to slow the flare...but this doesn't stop disease progression (and comes with its own batch of problems...in my case possibly Addison's Disease). The most common disease modifying MS meds that many take daily, or weekly only slow things down or reduce symptoms by ~30%, Copaxone increases fatigue in many people (and tests are showing a potential breast cancer link), and the interferons (Avonex, Rebif and Betaserone) make you tired, depressed, can kill your skin and give you flu-like symptoms. Plus your body can build up antibodies to these (after which the effectiveness is unknown), and studies (that have NOT been paid for by the drug companies) don't really show much effectiveness of any of these long term. Yes, they try to convince you that you NEED to take these drugs, but remember $2000 a month from every person that takes their drugs makes a multi-billion dollar a year business.
Now the good news! First, your first major flare is generally your worst, and it usually resolves itself almost completely. Plus, there are a LOT of things you can do to reduce your symptoms without a diagnosis. First MS causes chemical changes in the brain, so you will likely wish to speak to your PCP about an antidepressant. There have also been studies in Oregon recently which have proven Fish Oil reduces depression in MS, it also is beneficial in other ways to help your body heal. (However, it takes around a month to begin working, so give it time!) The Swank Diet (you can Google it), has also been highly effective in reducing MS symptoms in 90% of its adherants.
Other changes you can make to aleviate symptoms quit smoking! (yes, most of us with MS smoke...and smoking has been proven to speed progression in MS). Quit aspartame (diet soda/Nutrasweet)! No, aspartame does not 'cause' MS, but it can cause asymptomatic MS to become symptomatic, as well as cause horrible flares. It is a rather nasty neurotoxin, you can go to this link to find a fully referenced paper. http://www.dorway.com/bittertruth.txt
(I nearly killed myself with aspartame last winter....literally!)
Doing these simple things has reduced my MS symptoms signifigantly, as has avoiding stress, sleeping WHENEVER I need to (if you need a day off work to sleep...take it!), eating healthy (I don't follow Swank, but my own similar program) and exercise (especially when you are weak and don't want to! Gentle exercise helps regain strength....water aerobics and yoga are two forms highly recommended for MS).
Best of Luck to everyone!
(Note: If you think that I am a doctor, it means that you are not one either!)