A month ago I started experiencing a problem that had nothing to do with MS and I can’t even tell you how exciting that is. I generally steer clear of scatological talk (cause lets face it, it’s disgusting!) but for the sake of this discussion I must explain that my “problem” brings to mind a Niagara Falls metaphor.
Having symptoms that change as fast as Facebook status updates, I’m very aware of what I feel when and for how long. After five days with this unfortunate experience, I went to my GP. She sent me for blood tests and x-rays and then to a gastroenterologist who sent me for a cat scan, and now I have a colonoscopy on the calendar. Apparently I have “mild, non-specific swelling in the lymph nodes of my abdomen and groin” (isn’t groin an unpleasant word…kinda like spleen or bile). So I’m curious what is wrong and hope that it has something to do with my abdomen sporting the pregnant-chic look; but the investigation and not knowing doesn’t faze me. Being poked, prodded, tested and schlepping all over town for the right specialist to bring test results for reassessment isn’t foreign to me. And I have no doubt I will be fine. But the surprising part of this experience isn’t the blasé optimism I’ve so easily found. No. The part of this that has me sitting with my jaw slack-and-agape is that this is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had a health concern that isn’t MS related.
As a woman who has been living with this “nobody knows why” disease, I have learned to accept what is, and not throw my hands up in the air with every new symptom. But look at me now! I have films and digital renderings that correlate with my symptoms. Did you follow that? I have symptoms that actually reflect what is going on in my body. Look! It’s here, here and here on my catscan! This is a totally new experience for me. MS is an amorphous disease. It’s often hard to describe a symptom and it can’t be pinpointed on a scan. While MRIs are an amazing diagnostic tool, they don’t provide a map to the symptoms that impede my ability to function everyday. No one looks at my annual MRI and says “Hey, this scar here is why you can’t walk far; this one is why you are incontinent and have regular bouts of pain and this is the pesky little guy that makes you dizzy all the time.”
So, here I am, reclining on my flexible office chair with my hands behind my head, smiling. Of course I can deal with this. It is actually fun. But in the midst of this bliss I find myself glancing around to make sure no one is looking at me; sitting with the sad, pointless speculation of what my life could have been had this been my first major health issue. Of course I shake it off and look to the more positive aspects of being me, while trying not to lament my summer reality that I can’t really leave the house unless it becomes unseasonably cool, that I’ve been taking so many medications for the last two decades that I have to carry around those little plastic reminder cases and that I struggle with the fear of the unpredictability of doing errands alone.
I take a moment to mourn this loss and then I go back to the bliss of a health problem that will very likely be resolved. And while I’m there I breakout the list of things that make my life full and fabulous. Cause lucky me! I got a bunch of those. And at this moment, the best part is that I will count down the days until my colonoscopy when I will likely learn exactly what is wrong with me and how to fix it.
I am so excited.