'Cause I don't have MS.
I got a call from the neurologist because they had a cancellation and I was on the earlier- -appointment- waiting list. They asked if I wanted to come in, and I said "yes!" because that would free me up on Thursday, which would have been a real blessing.
So, I went into the exam room, sat on the plastic couch and jiggled for the ten minutes it took for the neurologist to get in there. I texted my sister that I was woozy. She advised that I put my head between my knees and then thought that would be funny if he came in while I was like that. She has a off-kilter sense of humor. She gets it from me.
The neurologist came in, medical student in tow. The neurologist is small -- shorter even then me. I could take him down with no effort at all. It is disconcerting. I bet he enjoys stabbing people in the back with great long needles as a way of compensating for his height.
The medical student, on the other hand, is tall and has to fold himself up, storklike, in the plastic chair in the corner.
Well, Dr. H asks -- how have you been feeling? I tell him that I am feeling much better, actually. I estimate that I am at about 80% of normal right now. Some slight cognitive difficulties, some hesitation in my speech, still dropping things, small lack of coordination, but my energy is almost back (except for the occasional bad day). My gait is still a little wobbly, but only I notice it. The only thing that is a problem is that my left side is still tingly and numb. And my right side has sporadic numbness. But now that I am used to it, I just walk a little more carefully down stairs and hold my coffee cup more firmly.
He looks at me for a moment and asks questions about the numbness that I can't answer, like -- is it constant or coming and going. I don't know, because I think I only notice it when it intrudes into my daily life.
The neurologist goes over all of the tests that were done and what they tested for. He even tested for syphilis, because you can have odd neurological symptoms with it. I mentally roll my eyes, although if I do have syphilis, I will also be a very rich widow. Because I would kill my husband in an extremely clever way, get away with it, and spend my days on a beach in Latin America with a handsome young pool attendant.
But I digress.
So, he goes through the results. There is nothing wrong with any of my arteries -- in my head or in my neck. (Whew!) I don't have lupus. I don't have MS. Or Lyme's disease, or Shogren's, or sarcoidosis, or any rheumatoid disease. I don't have any of the reversible dementias.
What do I have?
The neurologist looks at me, and pauses. He says that he went back to my earlier MRI and counted the number of lesions, because he wanted to quantify the difference between that one and the second, more recent one, just to get an objective measure of the progression.
In the first MRI, I had forty lesions scattered throughout my brain (remember, lesions are little areas of scar-tissue).
In the second MRI, I had twenty.
I looked at Dr. H. He looked back, clearly at a loss.
So, I say. How does that happen? Lesions don't heal, do they?
Not really, he says. I don't know what happened.
It couldn't be the fact that everybody I know is praying for me? I ask with mild (well, maybe not exactly mild) irony.
I look at the neurologist.
I look at the medical student.
We all sit for a moment.
Dr. H says that he thinks that I am clearly better and that we should just monitor the symptoms. I am to make an appointment for three months later and cancel it if the symptoms stay the same or get better. If they get worse I am to call him immediately. We will have another MRI in six months to see what happened with my brain.
I say okay. I am still trying to understand what he has said. It strikes me that the MRI machine that was used for the second set of scans was a more powerful machine than the first one -- it was a Tessla 3 or somesuch, but it was only a month old, and the techs had commented that it was much more powerful than their old machine.
Which makes the finding more powerful, in my opinion, as I might have had more lesions than forty to begin with, but the older scanner would not have picked them up.
I ask what he thinks has happened -- the neurologist says that there was clearly some injury to my brain and that the lesions are resolving.
That about sums it up, I guess. He did not know if it was an infection or what, but whatever it is, it is more than half gone. I ask what could have caused it, and he is at a loss, because MS is about the only thing that remotely would resemble what has happened, but all of the tests came back as negative.
He says that there is a remote chance that I have MS, but even if I did, it is a really mild case and he would not treat it, because the treatment is pretty aversive. And my brain seems to be handling it all pretty well on its own. It could be some sort of autoimmune reaction, which would not surprise me at all -- it would be just like my body to begin attacking itself.
I tell him that I am just going to treat this like an autoimmune process and take better care of myself. He suggests that I stop working so hard. I mentally roll my eyes ... the phrase that all physicians say when they have nothing else to contribute. And stop smoking and lose weight. (I don't smoke -- that was just for irony's sake.)
But ... I am getting better.
As I leave the office, I think about it, and I can pinpoint the day that I woke up, feeling better. It was about three days after seeing the first neurologist. The nausea was gone and my gait was off, but nothing near what it had been. From that point on, except for the numbness, I can see that I have been feeling progressively better, with only mild ebbs and flows in the severity of the symptoms.
So -- I am struggling to understand what this whole episode was about, in the bigger picture. What God was doing through me, what I was supposed to learn as I went through this. I am still pondering it, but I will tell you the first two things that I know.
First -- God is a God who can heal brain lesions. Because they generally don't heal all that well. I think you can have some slight healing ... but not a lot. The brain re-routes function more than heals lesions, I think. But that is not an absolute fact -- it is just a vague recollection.
Second -- God honors prayer -- because I know, I know, that the prayers were part of the healing. And God will fix things even when you can't pray for yourself -- that is why He wants us to pray for each other -- because He knows that sometimes we are too weak and afraid to pray.
So, that is the first thing that I know, but I have been pondering and I have a couple of other thoughts percolating.
Am I allowed to say "Woot!"? It is, after all, the word of the year.