Tuesday, May 10, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 49
Well, we left off yesterday we me rather in a bad way. Sitting on the floor of my kitchen, wondering why my legs wouldn’t work to get me up. I sat there for a while, my daughter and husband not around, and thought, well this is really stupid. Then I scooted over to the sink, wrapped my fingers around its edge, and pulled myself up.
Sheesh. Must be coming down with the flu or something. I was a 5-mile-a-day runner. My legs were strong, baby.
But the weakness continued.
Amberly and I went up to our Idaho home for the month of August, Mark taking a vacation from work and soon joining us. I got worse. Begin to lose my balance. Couldn’t stand for any length of time. The bottoms of my feet felt like they’d put in a fire. August passed this way with no change. We began to think I had MS.
I called a neurologist at Stanford to make an appointment. It would be in September, after we got back to California. Those were scary days, wondering if I had MS, and if I’d ever walk normally again. I’d gone from running 5 miles a day to barely making a lap inside the house.
Meanwhile my wonderful agent Jane continued with the negotiations on my contract with Zondervan. And I got back my editorial letter for Capture the Wind for Me. I rewrote the manuscript in a couple of intense weeks around the end of July/beginning August.
When we got back to California in September, I went for my tests for MS. These tests, no kidding, are straight from the Nazis.
I knew the test was in two parts. The first involved shocks. The second involved needles. Waaaaay long needles.
Well, I figured I could handle the needles pretty decently. But shocks? Listen. I can’t stand even those static little zaps you get when you touch metal in a dry room.
I knew I was in trouble the minute I walked into the test room. On one of those white eraser boards on the wall was written in big red letters: “Dr. Shock-a-matic.” Ha-ha, very funny.
The nurse came in and brightly informed me that she would do this part of the test. It was really very simple. She would zap my legs with shocks, higher and higher voltage each time, until she saw the required reaction on the computer screen from the electrodes attached to my skin. Hey, no sweat.
She started in.
She looked at me, like, for heaven's sake,we've just begun. I told her I didn’t do shocks. “Oh,” she said, “hang in there.”
The next shock went higher. “Aaaaah!” I glared at her. I couldn’t believe this. We were only at number two, and she predicted we’d have to go to 3 or 4 with each placement of her zapper on various muscles. She hit 3, and I nearly came off the gurney. I started blathering. Okay, so I use humor when I’m in the doctor’s office and scared to death. Only this was rather black humor. But she deserved it. I said things like, “What’s wrong with you, you like doing this stuff? How can you do this all day? Where did they train you—Auschwitz?”
She told me one patient actually enjoyed the test very much. Then she admitted he was a teenager, dressed all in black, with lots of piercings. Pain was in for him.
I somehow survived the first four zaps, then she moved her super shocker to the next muscle. I blathered some more about her apparent lack of sanity. In fact, at that point, the entire field of neurology seemed totally insane to me. The 21st century, and this was the only test they knew to give for MS? I loudly informed her she ought to go work for the Russian Secret Service. She’d get a medal or two. I moaned and I groaned, generally accusing her of lacking a heart. And soul. After about the third shock on that second muscle, I pulled the plug. I said, “Listen, Nurse Rachet, I’m outta here. Like now.” And I yanked off the electrodes.
She looked at me in shock. (Haha.) Told me I was the only person in her over 10 years experience who’d had the nerve (ho-ho-ho) to stop the test.
I told her I was happy to be the first.
Nurse left the room—and good riddance. I waited. In came the doc. Oh, wow, the guy’s gonna cream me. Well, fine, I didn’t care.
Amazingly, he didn’t even make a fuss. In fact, he said they got enough data to show him that part of the test was fine.
Fine? I practically jumped off the table to go strangle the nurse. Apparently she got her jollies completing tests that didn’t need to be completed anyway. I told the doc he needed a new assistant. He gave me a look like you wimp.
Part two of the test. The needles. Long needles. Dug into my leg muscles, all the way in, then shoved this way and that, while he watches my nerves do their virtual scream on the monitor.
They screamed all right.
But I stayed silent, even though it hurt like the dickens. Hey. I can do needles.
Test results—negative. No MS. My family and I were so very relieved.
Now, if only I could walk normally.
Read Part 50