I mentioned it before, but I believe it deserves mentioning again. It is damn hard to keep your eye still for just a couple of moments, let alone close to an eternity! Okay. Maybe calling it an eternity is stretching the truth a bit, but I kind of thought I might be two or three cell phone models behind the current model by the time I got out of that damn MRI session. That was torture enough. Then came the bill.
I have never been known as someone who saves money very well, but at that time, I had been pretty proud of myself. I had squirreled away a nice chunk of cash. More than I had ever saved in my lifetime, up to that point. Well, every damn red cent of it went to the MRI sessions (It was actually two separate MRIs that they did in the same session). EVERY cent. All of it gone, but I thought to myself, “At least this will tell the doctors what the problem is so I can start getting treatment for it.” I thought the price was worth it. It had to be, right? Ummmmm……..Well…..
Now, I also had to go back to the neighborhood health center, the one with all the sticky little aliens, to have several blood tests done ‘just to rule a few things out’ according to TEE. Up to that point, I had never had so much of my own blood taken out of my body at one time. Not intentionally, at least. If I remember correctly, it turned out to be somewhere in the vicinity of 10 to 12 vials (I could be wrong. MS affects the memory). Not horrible, but not pleasant in any way either. I asked the nurse if she was going to take me out to breakfast at the very least, after that. She said I wouldn’t even get a cookie. God, I hate being an adult sometimes.
The week goes by. I sort of begin to get used to seeing clearly out of only one eye. I don’t fret over it too much since today, when I see TEE, I will learn what the problem is and be able to start fixing it, right? Click, click, click……….
This time, I brought my wife. You see, after the last visit, I had trouble remembering all that TEE and who I thought was TEE had told me. I get nervous and have trouble staying in the moment when I’m in an uncomfortable situation. And trust me, this was uncomfortable. I remembered some of it, but a lot of it was just vague fog. Sort of like what I was seeing out of my right eye. Which, by the way, on this second visit was barely noticeable. The pain was still there, but the vision issue wasn’t nearly as bad as the week, or even days, before. Of course, this is when they do the eye test before dilating my eyes. And of course, for the most part, I don’t have much of a problem with the vision tests. There was a slight difference between the left and the right, but not much. I begin to think that maybe I had made too big of a deal about it, and could have saved a lot of cash just by waiting for it to improve on it’s own. The next bit shot that idea right out of my thoughts.
Back in the room with the photos and charts comparing healthy and unhealthy eyes, plus the Bladerunner machine, I get the eye dilation treatment once again. This time, I’ve got Jen, my wife, to talk to while I wait, at least. Plus, I know she’ll know what questions to ask. She’s smarter than me. Well, on most things. I, of course, got the better deal out of us being together. She kind of got shafted getting me, but I was glad she was there. Oh, and no screaming child across the hallway! Another plus.
Tee and quasi-TEE finally come in, introduce themselves to Jen, and after informing me that, thankfully, the blood tests were negative on things like syphilis, HIV, or gonorrhea, (Really!?!? That were things they tested for?), immediately get down to brass tacks. Tee uses the Bladerunner machine on me once again and determines that, yes, the inflammation of the optic nerve has gone down, but that they are still baffled as to what caused it. After a series of questions asked by both TEE and Jen, and answers from Tee that sort of made sense, and answers from me that didn’t seem to make any sense to anyone but me, there still was more mystery than solution left on the table. That is, until I mention one thing. I happen to mention that the eye goes blurry mostly when I deal with a drastic change in the surrounding temperature. Tee’s head snaps around from the computer screen to make eye contact with me.
“Like when you step in or out of a hot shower?”, was the question that popped out of her mouth. My answer was yes, exactly the case. Then, words came out of her mouth so matter of factly, as if she was telling me what to pick up at the store (She didn’t have much of a bedside manner). Her words were like a kick right in my twigs and berries.
“Well, that can sometimes be a sign of MS, so I’d like to schedule another set of MRIs.” She then asked me a slew of other questions about symptoms that I might have been experiencing, but had been ignoring. I had no reason to connect them with my eye situation. When my answer to many of them, including heavy fatigue, joint pain, and feelings of vertigo, was yes, she insisted on more MRIs concentrating more on the brain rather than the eye, but instead of returning to her, she felt I should see a neurologist with the results.
‘Fuck!’ is all I can remember thinking as the first big downward fall of the rollercoaster motion’s wind hit me square in the face. My hand were not up in the air. I was not having fun on this ride. I was gripping the lap bar, white knuckled, with both hands.
Walking to our cars, (we both had to go to work after the doctor visit) my wife saw my fear, and tried to reassure me that all we could do was wait and see. Right at that moment, we knew it could be MS. It wasn’t a certainty.
I love that woman to death, but her words didn’t comfort me. I was scared. Period. It was time to get insurance. And now that I had a pre-existing condition, I was truly thinking and feeling, ‘Thanks Obamacare!’ There would have been no way to get anything I could afford without it. So, before scheduling more MRI time, I scoured the government site looking for something I could afford on a bartender/musician income. There wasn’t much, but there was something usable. Boom! I had insurance, and was immediately going to use it!
Okay. Well, now we are about to meet the neurologist, but there are still more ups and downs in this rollercoaster ride. We’ve just begun month three since my first doctor visit, and we still don’t know what is up. The rollercoaser ‘click, click, click’ has begun again and this time, I have a shit load more fear of what is coming when the clicking stops and the drop begins.
I begin to look up the ins and outs of MS online. That’s where we’ll kick off the next installment. Until then, if you feel physically crappy, STAY THE HELL OFF OF WEB MD! It’ll just scare the hell out of you.
Until next time, keep walking forward, avoid the potholes, and I’ll see you on the other side of the road with all the other chickens!