At the end of Episode One of this medical saga, I tied up loose ends – except for one. I did not tell you about the MRI I had. I alluded to it, but left it for the next episode (this one) for dramatic effect. I’m in charge here, so why not, eh? 😉
Speaking of being in charge, I’m also making the unilateral decision to devote this section to 1993, because I don’t want to rush things. So after a verrrrrry long wait – (almost a year – who said nationalized medicine was perfect?) I finally had the MRI my neurologist promised. For the uninitiated, MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and is a type of scan that uses a magnet about the size of a small truck. I exaggerate only slightly. If you’re dying to see what the machine looks like, knock yourself out:
Now, this sleek machine pictured here is the Porsche of MRI machines. The one inflicted on me in ’93 looked more hideous, kind of like a rusty ’82 Datsun maybe, and sounded like a freight train, no, make that two freight trains in my ears. Yes, they gave me ear plugs, but the joke is that since the sound seems to come from inside your head, the plugs don’t do much good, do they?!
[Author’s note: Before I go any further, I should explain that I am now writing from the vantage point of 22 years on, which may account for my sardonic slant on all of this. I wrote Episode One years ago, closer to the initial event. And it still carries – to my embarrassment – some of my bad writing quirks, such as “quotes” on many “words” that I would now leave “alone,” if you catch my “drift.” What I’m trying to say is that my first “episode” – sorry, episode – is just bursting with drama, whereas this one is mostly going to be calmer and maybe a tad snarkier.]
Anyway, so I had the MRI – and if anyone wants to know more about how it works, Wikipedia will be happy to tell you. (If you ever have an MRI yourself, and if you’re the least bit claustrophobic, be sure to take a nice tranquilizer before, so you can go to your happy place.)
Finally, by now in 1994, I went to the neurologist to get the results.The doctor was one of those types who operated on the God principle, as in: he thought he was one. (See my How to be a Rotten Doctor post for details.) He was abrupt and cold; compassion was not in his repertoire. He was also very patronizing. I neglected to mention in my earlier piece, What’s Wrong With Me!, that he grilled me about my symptoms as though I were some kind of criminal and he was a bad cop. Believe me when I tell you he would not have been your favourite medicine man, either.
So he tells me in his detached god-like manner what the MRI showed: It was fine… oh, except for one little “lesion.” Yes, that is the word he used, “lesion,” this time the quotation marks are legit. Now it was I who grilled him!
Lesion?? What lesion? Where? Why? How? All he would say was that he didn’t think it was the cause of my seizures because it wasn’t in the right area in my brain.
I pushed him further. How did this happen?? What could have caused it?? And above all, what the hell is wrong with me?!! Heh, I’m getting dramatic again. As I write, I’m reliving it!
So he tells me in an offhand manner, shrugging, discounting, as if I forced him to divulge it, don’t you know: “Well… the technician wrote in his report, “MS-question mark.”
That got my attention! “Excuse me????” I sat up straight on the examination table, almost levitating. “What do you mean??? MS??? I have MS???”
Placating me, he said, “Well now, not necessarily. There’s only one lesion. In multiple sclerosis there are multiple lesions.” Duh.
So how, I asked him, would I know for sure if I had it?? Were there any tests…?
He said, drawling in his patented uncaring manner, “Well… there are a couple of tests, but… I mean, if you were going to develop MS, years down the road, you wouldn’t really want to know now, would you? You wouldn’t need to know now.”
The man was so arrogant, I was so alone and weak… I could not bring myself to challenge that god-like medicine man, head of the neurology department at that hospital in 1994, and say YES I want to know, dammit!
To be continued in What’s Wrong With Me! Episode Three: 1997 – The Plot Thickens.