My diagnosis wasn’t a high point showcasing the professionalism of the medical profession.
In short, after eight days with ascending pins and needles and numbness from the soles of my feet to my abdomen, as well as inexplicable tiredness, I walked myself (yes, I walked myself there, such is the power of denial) to the nearest ER, clutching a letter from my GP who said my symptoms were out of his league.
After a four hour wait I was admitted to hospital overnight, only to be released before breakfast the next day after having had my blood taken multiple times and a rather unpleasant physical. I was told to go home, rest and book myself an MRI. After a bit of luck with an unusually short MRI wait time and a gruelling 90 minute MRI, I found myself back at the hospital to receive my results a week later.
My mother came with me to my morning appointment at the hospital. Five hours later – a wait long enough for me to wallow in more denial and almost convince myself there was nothing wrong with me – I saw the neurologist, the same one that had admitted and discharged me a week earlier.
The doctor hadn’t read my results. In fact, she didn’t have my results. She had to call the hospital’s radiology clinic and have them run over to her. She was rude and not paying attention and I was seriously considering leaving (that would be the denial again). I probably would have, if I had not started to feel queasy looking at the images of my brain and spinal cord lit up on her screen.
And then her manner changed. She became friendly, stopped scowling and started to smile.
It was at that point I knew I wasn’t going to like what she had to say.
I’ve been reading blogs about the moment people first heard their diagnosis. About how the world stops when they hear the words ‘multiple sclerosis’.
But I’d googled my symptoms, I knew the worse case scenario. And I knew she was going to tell me I had MS (or something potentially more debilitating) as soon as she found her bedside manner.
I said something inane, like ‘are you sure?’ Or maybe I imagined saying that. I know I grinned uncontrollably, doing my very own involuntary Joker impersonation. Then I asked if could still drink alcohol and eat cheese (apparently my priorities in the face of an incurable chronic disease).
After that I left it to my mother, who is a Registered Nurse, to ask the questions that mattered.