Friday, November 17, 2006

4:45 p.m., November 17th, 2003

When I got home from work and checked the messages, there was an urgent one from the resident at my doctor's office who'd been treating me. Unfortunately, the office had closed at 4:30. I knew it had to be the results of the 2 MRIs I'd had the previous week--one of my brain and one of my spine. The MRIs were the culmination of six weeks of intensive testing. On September 30th, 2003, I went to the doctor because I'd had pins and needles in my feet, legs, hands and arms for over a week and they just wouldn't stop. Because I'm overweight and my grandfather was diabetic, the resident explained to me, what I was feeling was probably diabetic neuropathy, and I should have a blood test and see him in a week for the results.

When I went back in a week, the blood test showed normal sugar levels. Okay, said this bulldog resident, maybe you've got a pinched nerve. Let's do a nerve conduction test and an electromyogram. Turns out it wasn't a pinched nerve. Okay, says the resident, let's do a blood test for lupus. Nope. Wasn't lupus. This was where it started to get way scary.

The doc explained to me that we had eliminated all of the "easy" answers--testing for diabetes, lupus, a pinched nerve, he'd eliminated MS because my strength was good, etc. We were down to things like ALS (Lou Gehrig's disese) or a brain or spinal tumor, so it was time for MRIs. Somewhere I have a file where I wrote up all my impressions from inside the machine--thinking about writing it out was all that kept me sane in there. No, I'm not claustrophobic, it was BORING. 'Nuff said. Anyway, I had the MRIs on 2 successive nights, and then waited a week for answers. When my doc did have them, he called at home while I was at work.

After a night of freaking out, not sleeping, barfing, etc., I called my doctor's office the minute they opened on the 18th. The resident who'd been seeing me wasn't in, and my doctor wasn't in. I very carefully explained that I was going to work, and one of them needed to call me AT MY WORK NUMBER. When I got there, there was a message on the voice mail, left during my commute, asking me to call. When I did, the nurse asked me if I could come in right away--they had my test results.

Oh, not good. Any time they want you face-to-face, that's just not good. So I left work, flew over to the doc's office, and met with the resident and, for the first time, my primary care physician. After some distress when they saw that I was alone, and a little hemming and hawing about why I would think I had a brain tumor, my doc broke the news.

"You have multiple sclerosis."


"Are you okay?"

"Hmmm. Yes."

Of course, I wasn't, it just hadn't sunk in. I called my boss, told her, got permission to take the rest of the day off, went home, and cried. My tears were probably a 50/50 mix of relief that I didn't have ALS or a tumor and fear about what was in my future.

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