So, I went back to work on Monday morning and staggered around. I felt funny and off balance and I was having bouts of nausea.
I asked one of the psychiatrists on the unit next to mine if he knew of anyone who specialized in MS. He and I get along well, and we have had lots of conversations about interesting topics in medicine. He did not know of anyone off the top of his head, but he would look into it. At the end of the conversation, he asked who the referral was for. I told him that it was for me. I saw the look on his face change, as he shifted from "interested professional" to concerned about me, and I realized that this is where I will be going for some time to come.
I will have to fend off concern, without looking dismissive. I will have to say that I am fine, when I don't really feel fine. I will have to reassure people that it is no big deal, when it feels like a really big deal. I will have to keep myself from babbling about my health, because it is all consuming.
I don't want to tell anyone.
But I want to tell everyone.
I knew that I had to tell my supervisor, because I might have to take time off for medical appointments. I was going to tell my friend Kim, who is the social worker on my unit, because I knew that she would pray for me. I did not want to tell anyone else, because I felt like a fraud. I knew that something was wrong with me, but I did not have a diagnosis, and so telling people about it seemed wrong. What if it was all a mistake? I would be the recipient of false sympathy! Ack!
So I went to work, distracted and anxious. I did not feel like myself at all.
When I went home, I looked at the Internet, feeling like I was looking at a map. That this was a trip that I would be taking. I found myself saying to myself, "I have MS", trying it on for size.
"I am going to be disabled."
"I am going to be decrepit."
"I am going to be damaged."
"I am going to be different."
I felt broken.
It felt wrong.
I am going to have a chronic condition. I may not be able to work. I may have to undergo medical procedures. I am going to be a patient. I am going to be sick. I will have to take medicine. I will have to rest. I will have to take it easy. I will have good days and bad days and on a bad day, I will not be able to do what I want.
I think I am stunned by the whole idea.
I was going to be one of those old ladies that acts younger than her age. I was going to dress twenty years too young and walk with a free stride. I was going to have all of my teeth and drive like a maniac and travel the world.
My sister and I have plans to be romance writers and have a house with a dozen cats and at least one handsome pool boy.
None of my plans for myself included brain damage or illness.